What do clubs like the Bentleigh Greens, South Melbourne FC, Port Melbourne Sharks, South Springvale, Brunswick City and Box Hill United all have in common apart from their Greek origins.
They are all accredited participants in the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Good Sports program, which is Australia’s largest and longest running health initiative in community sport.
The aforementioned football clubs are just a few of the 2200 Victorian Sporting clubs registered with the program which was introduced about 22 years ago by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. The program provides local clubs with effective resources and support designed to provide a safer and healthier environment for their local club members.
Bill Karametos is the Regional Community Development Manager for the Good Sports program in Victoria. With his team of seven project officers, he looks after the operations side of Good Sports Victoria. Karametos explains, “[the program] is not about abstinence or not consuming alcohol. It’s ensuring that the consumption of alcohol at your sporting club is safe, responsible and legal.”
Although primarily targeting alcohol consumption, the program also supports clubs in dealing with issues surrounding illegal drugs, mental well-being and nutrition. Research supports the effectiveness of the program showing it leads to approximately a 40 per cent reduction in both, the odds of risky drinking, and the likelihood of experiencing alcohol related harms.
Although 2200 sporting clubs are already involved in the program state wide, there are still about 1000 clubs yet to register. Karametos says there a number of important benefits for clubs engaging with the Good Sports program. “More and more people, when they’re sending their children to a sporting club, it’s like sending them to a school. They want to make sure they’re sending their children to the right environment. And by making sure that all those things are in place, parents will be more comfortable sending their children to a sporting club. More and more parents are doing research over which sporting club to send (their child) to and if the club promotes that they are an accredited Good Sports club, the parent will probably have more confidence in sending the child there.”
Karametos also says a safe, family friendly club is more attractive to sponsors and local councils who provide grants. “A lot more clubs are putting that they’re family friendly and socially responsible , they’re putting that into grant applications. The local councils support our programs encouraging local sporting clubs to be involved.”
“We’re about prevention of harm, because if you can do that right, your sporting club will be, not necessarily successful on the field, but off the field. If you can embrace all people in society culturally, females, males, whatever, bring the kids along- I’m sure you’ve seen it around local sports clubs-The more families around, the better it is. For sporting clubs to succeed and grow, they need to embrace everyone. And with the massive growth in female sports, sports clubs will die if they don’t embrace female sports. Simple as that.”
Karametos cites the example of Roxburgh Park Football Club which won the award of Victoria’s Good Sports club of 2017. “ They’re a great example- they went well beyond the usual. They worked with local health providers, to provide services to their members around providing education. But they’ve got a massive membership base now. Their sides are successful. And they’re not just relying on alcohol sales to make their club successful.
Each club is totally different. That’s what I like about the job. I go to the Hawthorn Spartans and then I go to Swan Hill Football and Netball club. It’s totally different. Because it’s their club and they run it the way they like. But around the prevention of harm, we believe it should be a consistent message to every sporting club.”
Karametos, who has been working with the Good Sports Program for eight and a half years, has grown up around sporting clubs and is a member of two clubs. “My love is cricket and footy. I just love being around my two sporting clubs.”
He adds, “this job gives me heaps of satisfaction, to make a difference in the community. It’s actually a good gig and unique. If there’s any clubs out there who want to hear more (about the program), get on the website or contact me direct by email. If any Greek sporting club volunteers want to speak to me privately and ask me to talk more about the program, I’m happy to come out and help around fundraising and alcohol management.”
Bill Karametos email: [email protected]