Garuda Football Club are tackling illegal drugs and flying high
Tony Chen, President of Garuda Football Club makes no bones about it. -he’s a Manchester United supporter through and through. “My passion for soccer started about 20 years ago, just watching it on TV with my mates rather than playing it”. Tony lives and breathes soccer and it drives him to do what he can to make Garuda the best it can be. He has also implemented the Good Sports Tackling Drugs Policy as part of his role as Club President, which sets clear guidelines on expected behaviours of a club’s members and spectators, and how to respond to a potential illegal drug issue in a fair and appropriate manner.
Humble beginnings, solid values
Garuda football club began about 10 years ago, and got its name from their original major sponsor Garuda Indonesia. “When we founded the club, it was made up of predominately Indonesian and East Timorese players. There’s quite a large Indonesian community up here in Darwin”, Tony says. When the airline ceased operations in the Northern Territory and ended its partnership with the club, Garuda was left with a tough decision to make. “I’m not Indonesian myself, but some of the Indonesian members said that Garuda has another meaning.”
As Tony then found out, the Garuda is a legendary bird or bird-like creature. This symbol of strength, speed and royalty is described as “the King of Birds” in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology. “We decided to hang on to the name”, Tony reveals with a smile.
It is a name that now represents members from over a dozen nationalities that now play for Garuda. “We’re a relatively small club compared to others”, Tony says. This hasn’t stopped Garuda from looking for ways to be bigger and better. “Last year was our first with a women’s team”. Tony himself only took up soccer about 8 years ago when he was well into his twenties. “Now I’ve taken on more of a coaching role within the club”, says Tony, who proudly acknowledges he’s got as much to learn as his club members.
Garuda’s women’s team is young in history, soccer experience and age-range. Most of the largely teenage team “have never played soccer before in their entire life. So that was a bit of a challenge taking them on last year!” Tony chuckles. “We started with the basics and they’ve learned a lot. Most of them are still with us this season so they must be enjoying themselves.”
What it means to be a Good Sports club
“A lot of players are new to Darwin”, Tony says. “They’re usually looking for a club where they can have fun, meet new people. And that’s basically what we’re all about.” Garuda’s goal is to create a family-like atmosphere. Tony says the strong bonds he has formed through Garuda is what most motivates him to stay with the club and work as hard as he can within his role as President. “A lot of the players I never knew before they joined the club and now they’re some of my closest mates.”
Tony knows it’s his responsibility to prepare his Northern Territory-based club so it can be what it is – a supportive community organisation. After finding out about the Good Sports program last year, he wasted no time signing up. Tony immediately started looking at ways the program could improve his beloved club. “I really agreed with what Good Sports is working towards. I got our club accredited as soon as possible.” Tony says since joining the program the Good Sports team has “been extremely helpful” getting the club’s Good Sports policies in place. “It’s been great so far”, he says.
Tackling Illegal Drugs together and growing stronger
Now actively recruiting players to form a new junior team, Garuda plans to grow even bigger and better still. “The aim is to get a junior base and then grow from there”. This core strategy behind Garuda’s plans for the future highlighted the need for a Tackling Illegal Drugs policy. Tony says the process was surprisingly simple and took approximately a month to complete. He says his committee members “were all very supportive”. He said it was important for them to gather together and discuss drug-related incidents and how the policy worked to address them. Tony says if such an incident should arise, the members now “know what to do, who to talk to and where to get help”.
Garuda Football Club has also implemented Good Sports approved policies around alcohol management, tobacco, and safe transport. Tony believes he is now better equipped to ensure the club is a healthy environment, especially for its younger members. “Every club should get on to it if they haven’t already”. Tony feels passionate about the importance of having such policies “so people are aware of what we stand for”.
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