As parents we always want what’s best for our kids.
Selecting the right school for our children is a difficult task often involving the whole family. Schools have had to get better at opening up to attract new students and marketing throughout their local area. The same can be said for selecting a sporting club.
Phiv Demetriou, of the famous Demetriou family, and head of a social responsibility program for sports clubs in Northern Victoria, was quoted in The Age last year as saying clubs now have to provide more than just a game of sport.
“I think it’s fair to say that parents might pick a football club like they pick a school from now on. They’ve got to make the right decision.”
Phiv says clubs now have much more to consider, including drugs, alcohol and equality. We agree.
With so many sports on offer, traditional mainstream sports are not necessarily the first selected. So local clubs have had to get better at attracting new members, and showing parents they are safe and family-friendly environments, focused on sport and not on drinking – as has traditionally been the case.
As parents we look back at our past associations with sporting clubs. Our local sports club was often where we made close friends, achieved our sporting goals, but, unfortunately, also had big drinking sessions. The last thing we want for our kids now is to learn those unhealthy behaviours we may have imitated when we were younger.
Fortunately many clubs have shaped their environment with healthy and responsible attitudes, particularly about alcohol. The AFL’s Quality Club Program, Cricket Australia’s Club Development and the Australian Drug Foundation’s Good Sports program help them do that. Being involved in programs like this signifies the club is serious about creating the best environment for its members, both on and off the field.
Attractive sports clubs have other things in common. They usually have a good reputation, and word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. They let everyone have a go, and not just the most talented. No one wants to see their kid sitting on the bench all year, growing more disenchanted than skilled at their sport.
The best clubs also have a well organised volunteer network including their committee of management, coaches and other volunteers. They have codes of conduct covering all the categories of their membership, as well as qualified coaches and trained bar staff.
If your local club has these sorts of initiatives in place, you can more confident that they are working to improve and provide the best possible environment for you and your kids.
Rod Glenn-Smith, Good Sports State Manager, Australian Drug Foundation
Let other GrogWatchers know what your experience is with sports clubs in your area by posting a comment below.