Sports clubs urged to play it safer in end-of-season celebrations

St Kevin’s player Sean Jencik is served at the Ashburton Soccer Club bar. Picture: Edward Bourke. 

By EDWARD BOURKE 

Community sports clubs have been urged to serve alcohol responsibly as the focus turns to end-of-season celebrations in the football codes.

Good Sports, a program established by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, has provided guidelines to participating clubs on how to keep their members safe from the risks of alcohol abuse.

The Foundation identified sporting clubs as an area to improve community health after their 2012 study estimated that 35.7 per cent of community sporting club members drank over four standard drinks per session regularly at their club.

Ashburton United Soccer Club senior men’s representative Andrew Dodds said the off-field health of the club was “critical” for the community.

“We’re all about participation, and giving people opportunities to play and socialise in a healthy environment,” he said.

Mr Dodds described the benefits offered by Good Sports as “invaluable”.

“I’ve been with the club a long, long time … looking back 20 years ago it was almost like a pub with a football team rather than a football club that ran a bar,” he said.

“They offer training sessions that are at times that suit volunteers … the health policies, the templates that they’ve provided have been really useful for the club.”

Alcohol and Drug Foundation national policy manager Geoff Munro said sporting clubs had long been a focus of the organisation.

“Twenty years ago when we started, we knew that sporting clubs, particularly the footy clubs and cricket clubs, were places where lots of binge drinking took place, and lots of under-age drinking took place,” he said.

“What we need to make sure is people who run sporting clubs and who are members of sporting clubs, need to understand their important role in protecting their members from alcohol and drug problems.”

Mr Munro said there were about 7000 clubs involved in the Good Sports program, and it had been proved to work.