No better place for road safety

This year we have seen many changes to our local football leagues, with the Yarra Ranges and Casey Cardinia football leagues effectively merging to form AFL Outer East.

Time will tell how the new system works, and I am sure we will hear those who support it and those who don’t, but we must focus on making sure we grow participation in football and netball in our community.

Sport is amazing; a place where we go to train, get fit and find friends.

Sport is one of the best preventions of mental health issues and crime.

In sports clubs these days, there are more opportunities to educate young men and women in programs like ‘R U OK Day’, the ‘Stop, one punch can kill’ campaign and the ‘White Ribbon’ campaign to prevent family violence.

The Emerald and Gembrook Cockatoo football/netball clubs in recent times have participated in the locally run program TRIP (Teenager Road Information Program) aimed at reducing road trauma among young people.

This program delivered locally by the CFA, Ambulance Victoria, SES and Victoria Police with support from ECHO youth services is a direct contact with young people to improve driving habits and to make drivers safer.

This year the road toll in Victoria is up 48.7 per cent at the time of writing this, and a staggering 205 per cent in the 18 to 29 years age range.

As a community, we know education is the best way to prevent road deaths.

However, we also need to reinforce personal responsibility and encourage more people to call out their mates before they get behind the wheel after drinking, without a seatbelt or simply telling your mate to slow down.

How did we end up on this subject, as part of the change of leagues in the outer east?

Simple: now we have a new league with a new administration and new opportunities.

I want to take this chance to encourage the AFL Outer East and participating clubs to use this season not just to build the competition but to educate the young men and women about road safety.

We have seen ads in the past like ‘drink drive, you’re a bloody idiot’ or ‘wipe off five’, however with so many people no longer watching TV and using social media to gain their daily news, it is increasingly difficult to get the message out.

We won’t get a better chance to talk directly to large groups than we do at football and netball clubs, so I encourage them all to remind their players to stay safe and keep an eye out for your mate.

Stay safe. Every death on the road is not just a number, it is a dad, mum, son or daughter or it could be your football club’s rover, or your netball team’s goal defence, and you can’t replace them.

Think road safety.