Following the successful roll out of its drug and alcohol education sessions, the BL&GFA want to introduce random drug testing for footballers next season, with clubs set to vote on the new policy at the Association’s AGM in December.
Association vice president, Simon Carpenter said the process would be similar to that already occurring at work sites but stressed its introduction was not about “naming and shaming” but gauging if there is a problem and offering support.
“It’s not about identifying the individuals and just weeding them out. It is identifying if we have a problem and then, if we do, giving avenues to help them get off it whilst protecting the rest of their club from the influences of people who are using in a big way,” Simon explained.
“I think, and the rest of the board believe, that education is the most important element to get in initially, but you still need to have that ability to identify those that are using and help them and the rest of the club to identify and address it.”
Whilst people are generally happy with the concept of drug testing, some concerns have been raised by Club officials.
“One of the biggest ones was the confidentiality of information and the risk to the club if ‘Billy Blogs’ gets two weeks for using meth on the field and the risk to the club if that information got out and the club’s reputation is tarnished,” Simon said.
“The drug policy addresses all of that. The information is restricted… With this sort of stuff, there is always rumour and innuendo, but to have the capability to either confirm or refute the allegations is always really good.”
BL&GFA have partnered with the Barossa Local Drug Action Team and Sammy D Foundation and are currently providing drug and alcohol education to all football and netball clubs during two, one hour long sessions at every home ground.
Simon said both junior and senior sessions have been well attended with feedback reflecting the local community’s rising concerns about drugs.
“You’d have to have your head in the sand to think it’s not occurring…if you think footy clubs are not affected in some way. We want to stamp out what exists, help those that are struggling and give avenues of support to those families who have family members on the gear,” Simon said.