Riverina football club changes drinking culture in community sport

Stopping alcohol-fuelled celebrations in the changing rooms is one way a sporting club in southern NSW is changing a culture of drinking in community sport.

Culcairn Lions Football and Netball Club President Jesse Kent said his club was implementing measures to reduce the consumption of alcohol on game days.

“Sporting clubs aren’t somewhere where you have to feel pressured to drink alcohol to fit in,” he said.

Mr Kent said traditions like encouraging a player to scull a beer when they won the best on ground had been eliminated.

A white sign with a lions head and the words Culcairn Lions
The Culcairn Football and Netball Club is proactive in managing alcohol consumption.(ABC Riverina: Emily Doak)

“In the bush country league football, we’ve got juniors [players] coming up and playing in the senior netball and senior football teams,” Mr Kent said.

“We wanted to be conscious about what we’re promoting after games in terms of alcohol consumption and encouraging people to get changed, get out of the rooms and then go have a beer in the main club area.”

The club also provides bus transport after social events and has introduced more family-friendly activities for members.

“Creating a safe environment that’s still enjoyable, but we really want to promote ourselves as a family club,” Mr Kent said.

Sport and alcohol are often hand in hand

Deakin University senior research fellow Bosco Rowland has examined the relationship between community sport and alcohol consumption.

“There’s a strong history of drinking in sports clubs,” Dr Rowland said.

“Often, in rural areas where there are limited opportunities to socialise, the sports club becomes the meeting place and because there’s a lot of drinking, it’s often the introduction for alcohol for a number of people.”

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