A mum who had recently moved to town was asking around for a really good club for their child to join. The child was still in Primary School, and given they had only just moved to town, they hadn’t made any strong friendships just yet.
This begs the question; “What is a ‘really good club’?” Depending on what you’re looking for in a club, the answer can vary considerably.
But why leave it to chance?
Whilst we can’t always have on-field success, clubs can take control of the behaviours and actions they are willing to accept at their club. This can be found formally through written policies and Codes of Conduct, and also through the demonstrated behaviours of club members such as calling out homophobia, sexism and racism. These are the minimum standards we expect in our community, and therefore should be expected within a club environment.
One club who takes their culture very seriously, are the Bushrangers Basketball. They have purposefully aimed to create a safe and inviting space for prospective members, and have found innovative ways to bring their Code of Conduct to life.
When was the last time you considered the culture you’re allowing at your club?
The policy of the month for October is a very important one; an Inclusion Policy.
We often hear clubs say that they are inclusive, and that anyone is welcome at their club. But being an inclusive club is a lot more than that. Being an inclusive club means that everyone is able to comfortably be themselves and be an active part of your club, without fear of discrimination, harassment or bullying due to ability, gender, sex, ethnicity or age.
These fears are not unfounded; for example, many people obscure the fact that they may identify as LGBTIQA+ when in a sport setting due to homophobia that they may have experienced or witnessed*. It is up to us to ensure that our club is seen to be actively inclusive.
When our clubs represent the diversity in our communities, and actively include everyone, both the sport and community thrive.
Check out our previous Policies of the Month HERE:
*80% of LGBTIQA+ people witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport, with 70% believing youth team sports are not safe or welcoming, and more than 75% partially hiding their sexuality due to fear of discrimination. (Denison E, Kitchen A. (2015). Out on the Fields: The first international study on homophobia in sport. Nielsen, Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, Australian Sports Commission, Federation of Gay Games. www.outonthefields.com/)
Despite people who identify as LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Intersex and Queer/Questioning) making up an estimated 11% of the Australian population, research shows that sport participation rates for the LGBTIQ+ community are amongst the lowest of any community group.
To help clubs understand some of the barriers to participation for the LGBTIQ+ community, Proud 2 Play, together with South West Sport, have developed a suite of online resources, including a short course to be hosted on the well known “Play By The Rules” website.
The project was made possible through support from VicHealth, and had direct input from several south west sporting clubs whose feedback helped shape the online short course.
A launch event for the resources on September 22nd will feature an All-Star panel who have been assembled to introduce the sports industry to the new online resources.
To join in the live event, pre-register via the VicSport website HERE
Community sports clubs are a great social connector. Under normal circumstances, they’re full of people we might see a couple times a week. We’d have a chat and a laugh as we train and play games together, and we might notice if someone seemed “a bit off”. But this year’s different…
September 10th marks R U OK Day for 2020. Of all the years that R U OK Day has been promoted, this year may be the most important to check in with people at your club and ask if they are okay.
Warrnambool Wolves Football Club is one south west club that fully supports the notion of asking others “R U OK?”. President of the Wolves, Brett Gasper, highlights the club’s attitude and culture of supporting each other through the R U OK? campaign.
“This is a message that easily translates to a sporting sense. At the Wolves we want to be known as a Club that looks after and supports our own but also make a contribution to the wider community.”
But for the Wolves, checking in on team mates is not just a once off. They sought permission to include the distinctive R U OK? messaging on club playing tops as a constant reminder to check in and support each other.
When asked about the importance of R U OK Day, Mr. Gasper replied,
“I love the message. There are services around that can help the individual, but R U OK? makes us all aware that we can play a big part in the mental health of friends, family and work colleagues and gives you the knowledge to ask R U OK? and respond accordingly.”
But there’s more to R U OK Day than just asking the question. The R U OK website is full of practical advice on how to ask someone if they are okay, and what to do if they tell you that they’re not. By following the R U OK guides and getting in the habit of checking in with each other, we will all help build more supportive clubs like the Warrnambool Wolves in our communities.
To help embed this supportive culture at your club, you may find the following tips helpful:
1. Coaches, officials and athletes demonstrate improvements in life skills and self-esteem. 2. Athletes like and feel supported by their coach and peers. 3. Coaches, officials and athletes exhibit kindness toward others. 4. Sport is a positive and enjoyable experience for all involved. 5. Coaches, officials and athletes promote a team environment based on mutual respect and positive relationships. 6. Coaches, officials and administrators create a physically and emotionally safe environment. 7. Coaches encourage athletes to work with and support members of their sporting community. 8. Coaches, officials and athletes are confident they can spot the signs someone in their sporting community might be struggling with life. 9. Coaches, officials and athletes feel confident and willing to have a meaningful R U OK? conversation. 10. Coaches, officials and athletes feel a sense of connection and belonging within their sport community.
If you or someone you know needs further support, please call – Lifeline 13 11 14 – Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 or ‘000’ in an emergency
South West Sport has partnered with Portland SEA Change, Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation, Hands Up Casterton, and Portland YMCA to bring a fun activity to south west Victoria over the September school holidays!
Residents are being encouraged to download the free Strava app and track their movements around their neighbourhood, to see what creative “drawings” they are able to complete as part of the South West Moves challenge.
There are prizes up for grabs, with thanks to Corangamite Shire, Southern Grampians Shire, Glenelg Shire, Portland YMCA, and the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation.