By Michael Sholly – @vafaceo
Most of our clubs understand the opportunity we have to collectively support all of our members. This can extend far beyond the players to the officials, supporters and members of their extended family and network. The VAFA endeavours to support as many of these causes as possible but as an Association we have chosen to focus on two for the 2017; the White Ribbon Pledge and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF).
At the VAFA conference in February, a member of the VRGF spoke to our clubs on the aims of the organisation. The Foundation is there to help people affected by problem gambling, as well as their families and friends. They are also responsible for fostering greater understanding and awareness of the concept of responsible gambling in the wider community.
In advance of an official themed round this weekend, we have been seeking VAFA clubs to commit to the Responsible Gambling Charter.
We are delighted to acknowledge the following clubs who have committed to the Charter so far – Old Ivanhoe, St Francis Xavier, Old Scotch, Hawthorn, Hampton Rovers, Bulleen-Templestowe, Swinburne University, Chadstone, Mazenod and the VAFA Umpires Association.
The VAFA aims to play our part in reducing the potentially harmful impact that excessive gambling activity can have on people of all ages. We also aim to provide a point of difference in response to the intense and frequent promotion of gambling through media, particularly around the AFL coverage and at venues such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This advertising is particularly targeted at men in the VAFA’s age demographic. We encourage all members of the VAFA community to continue to appreciate sport ‘for the love of the game’ in its purest form, rather than ‘odds’, ‘the line’ or the monetary impact.
Our goal is to get at least 50% of all VAFA clubs committing to the charter and become active as a member of the VRGF’s ‘Sporting Club Program’. The commitment will also allow for VAFA clubs to receive a free educational session by a VRGF Ambassador and provide useful information and advice to the playing group and community members.
President of Swinburne University AFC, Michael Manning, said “this initiative fits in with our support services, such as Beyond Blue campaign, and we see it as part of the health and well-being benefits we can provide as a club.”
Chris Seuren, President of St Francis Xavier AFC added “it’s important for our club to teach our players the right way. We aim to steer them in the right direction using strong peer influence, e.g. ‘Why are you spending so much money?’ The campaign is well promoted.”
The reluctance of many to talk about a gambling problem can be due to a number of factors, including shame and embarrassment, a fear of being judged or they do not recognise gambling as the main issue. As a result some of the consequences include relationship breakdown (in particular domestic violence), financial difficulty, stress and depression.
The VRGF aims to educate people that gambling is an entertainment that costs money and is not a way to make money. Their vision is to make Victoria free from gambling related harm. I would urge all clubs to consider committing to the Responsible Gambling Charter and make their club a healthy place to be.