24th June, 2021 — Road safety
Thurgoona Bulldogs tackling drink driving
Back in the day, the Thurgoona Bulldogs Football and Netball Club was seen as a bit rough around the edges. The netballers were always a pretty strong outfit, but the Aussie rules footballers were serious wooden spooners.
Being a satellite suburb about 8km from the heart of Albury, NSW, and with a pub just down the highway from the clubrooms, president Steven Michelini says drink driving was always a concern.
“It was hard for people to enjoy a beverage and then worry about driving back into town or wherever they’d come from,” Steven says.
But as suburban expansion closed the gap between Thurgoona and Albury, aspirations rose and the club’s ambition to do better took hold.
Thurgoona Doggies’ strategic approach
They recruited talent from nearby regions, knowing good players follow good coaches.
They used their strong family base to keep juniors involved at the club and growing up through the ranks.
And working on their alcohol management to keep players safe was a big part of the club’s makeover.
Steven says it was a conscious decision to turn the club’s culture around, and part of that was using Good Sports policies around safe transport.
“We’ve definitely cleaned up the image of the club,” says Steven. “With responsible service of alcohol and making it more of a family-oriented club instead of just being a gathering for footballers to drinkand maybe have a run around if they wanted to.”
Safety message loud and clear
The safe driving message has got through and things are much easier to manage. These days, there’s a clear expectation that members won’t risk drink driving. Designated drivers are at hand, so is the local taxi number.
“It’s now very, very well known that we do adhere to all policies about responsible alcohol, and the team behind the bar is very switched on,” says Steven.
Safe transport is under control, because keeping the Bulldogs family feeling welcome and safe is a huge part of the winning formula.
“We’ve built up the club on family values and good players,” says Steven.
“And we’ve reaped those benefits in the past five or six years. We won our first flag in 2016 – that was the first ever flag Thurgoona (footy team) has won in 35 years of competition.”
And the wins keep on coming.