A drug and alcohol forum at Moama Bowling Club next week aims to get local sporting clubs taking on the issue of drugs in the community.By Trent Horneman
Echuca-Moama’s three football clubs will put aside their rivalry this month to tackle the issue of drugs in the region.
Echuca United, Moama and Echuca football clubs are organising a drug and alcohol forum at Moama Bowling Club on January 23, starting at 6pm.
Jim O’Brien, a former head of the Purana Taskforce, will address The Venue at Moama Bowling Club, as well as a range of local experts.
The forum is a free event not only for footballers, but anyone in the community.
Echuca United coach Scott Beattie, one of the forum organisers, said drug use was an important community issue which needed attention.
‘‘Getting the three football clubs to come together like this just does not happen. All three clubs have cancelled training for the night, which shows how important the issue is,’’ he said.
‘‘Within a football club you do see it. As a club we need to do the right thing and provide our players with all of the information to help them make the right choices.’’
Beattie said sporting clubs had an important role to play in educating young people.
‘‘I have been speaking with (Echuca police’s) Bernie Quinlan who told me the statistics for drug use in the region is alarming. It would surprise many just how rife drug use is in the community,’’ he said.
‘‘It could be a team-mate, a family member, co-worker or friend who needs help or support.
‘‘While this forum has been set up by football clubs, it is not just for footballers. It is open for families and anyone in the community wanting help or more information.
‘‘The more people in the community we have come and listen to guys like Jim O’Brien talk the better.
‘‘I would hate for this to be a one-off. I would like to see this forum continue to help educate young people who are considering becoming a first-time user.’’
Beattie said footballers were not immune to drugs.
‘‘Particularly with money in football and the accessibility of drugs. Drug use is prevalent in every level of football and is an issue from the best players through to the guys in the reserves and thirds,’’ he said.
Beattie said Echuca United had worked hard to correct its culture in recent years.
‘‘We had a poor culture a couple of years ago, not so much in drugs, but in other areas. It takes a bit of dedication and commitment to change that,’’ he said.
‘‘Our playing group adopted a zero-chance policy to drug use. If a player is caught with drugs they will not play for the club again unless hey were prepared to get help or go through rehabilitation.
‘‘The culture within football clubs has changed. We have a mentoring program in place where young players a paired with a senior player or club member. It allows them to talk about a range of issues in their life, from homework to other concerns.’’
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