The challenges faced at a community level can sometimes seem greater and more complicated than those faced at a professional or elite level. There are two types of drug use faced by community sporting clubs;
- Performance and image enhancing drugs (PIED’s)
- Illicit drugs used for social purposes (at home, at the club, parties).
While the use of PEID’s might seem more likely at an elite level the increased ease of access to PEID’s and the desire by community level athletes to perform at their best and replicate the physique of their elite role models has contributed to an increase in PIED’s related issues at community level. Community sporting clubs should aim to foster a sporting environment which advocates for and upholds the values of fair play and to Be Drug Free.
This can be a challenging process, however, there are steps clubs can take to help support a drug free environment. The following guiding principles can help clubs develop a healthy club environment.
- Planning – develop an action plan which outlines how the club will respond to potential drug related issues. This is best achieved though the development of a drug policy, code of conduct and incident response plan. Ensure that these documents are provided to the entire club community, are available for reference throughout the season and are reviewed prior to the start of each season. SMA has developed the following templates for clubs to use;
- Club Drug Policy
- Incidence Response Plan
- Incident Report
- Foster good role models – There are many people within a club (coach, committee, senior players) who are important role models for other members, particularly young people. Research has shown that these role models have the power to influence the values of others through the example they set. Individuals in these positions should display behaviours and actions consistent with the club policies such as responsible consumption of alcohol and adopting a food first approach to nutrition.
- Identify a club confidant – Clubs may wish to nominate an appropriate person to take responsibility of any drug-related incidents. Ideally the ‘Club Confidant” would be highly regarded within the club and someone who people trust and feel comfortable talking to. The confidant does not necessarily have to be especially knowledgeable about drugs and drug use, but they must have a clear understanding of the club’s policy and procedures and be aware of where to refer club members for professional help when necessary. Being able to maintain confidentiality is a prerequisite for choosing such a person.