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The power of community sports

News & Events / The power of community sports

As restrictions start to ease, community sport around the nation is starting to prep for game day and kids are itching to get back on the field. Most are probably in their uniform already!

This time of social distancing reminds us of just how important community clubs really are and what they mean to us.

Community sport has so many benefits

Sport is great for the heart, soul and the mind. Playing sport at a young age enhances cognitive function like memory, concentration and behaviour. It also promotes positive social behaviours like developing friendships, building trust and showing empathy.

Community clubs are also an important protective factor against harms from alcohol and other drugs, especially for young people.

Sporting clubs as a protective factor

Community sports are so much more than just a ‘sports club’.

They can:

  • strengthen, unite and influence cultural norms
  • build healthier, safer and more inclusive communities
  • boost feelings of social acceptance, self-esteem and increase mental health
  • reduce the likelihood of alcohol and other drug use and associated harms
  • increase community connectedness
  • impact decision-making and self-control, e.g. young athletes might choose not to smoke a cigarette compared to non-athletes because smoking is viewed as unhealthy and may impact their skills and performance.

How clubs influence drinking cultures

Sporting clubs provide young people with many benefits. But it is important to recognise that they watch and are influenced by adults at the club. If there are adults drinking at risky levels, this can normalise an unsafe drinking culture. The same goes for attitudes towards underage drinking.

A study conducted in regional Victoria during the 2016-17 sporting season showed that a male who looked younger than 18 years of age successfully purchased alcohol from 41 of 43 sporting clubs. Only four clubs asked for proof of identification.

The line might be a mile long at the bar but checking an ID could be the difference between legal and illegal drinking behaviours at your club.

What can clubs do?

It’s important that kids have exposure to healthy behaviours. The expectations clubs implement now, can have a huge impact on the way kids approach alcohol later.

To reduce the harms and effects of AOD, clubs should adhere to their liquor license obligations:

  • do not sell alcohol to minors or intoxicated patrons
  • bar staff have achieved their Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) accreditation
  • supply of alcohol is only during specific times
  • supply and consumption of alcohol is within an approved ‘red-line’ area
  • not permitting drunk or disorderly patrons on licenced premises.

Your club has more power than you realise to be a positive influence for youngsters!

For more information and to view references, visit the Alcohol and Drug Foundation

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