Revelations that the drug ice is now effecting junior football players at the local level have caused shockwaves throughout the community. Speaking after the release of the Australian Crime Commissions report was released this morning, Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said "In recent years, we have seen the creep of ice use stretch across this nation, with individuals from all stratas of society succumbing to the depravity of this drug".
Claims from Victoria Police’s former head of Purana Taskforce Jim O’Brien that “Ice isn’t just drifting in, it’s been there for a considerable amount of time,’’ has many asking the question of what have sporting clubs done to tackle this? Why are local clubs still failing to take swift action years later?
The AFL has long been under scrutiny for it’s perceived problem with player drug use, with disgraced hero Ben Cousins still getting plenty of media coverage following his ongoing addiction and the controversy of its ‘three strike’ drug testing policy but this news shows the crisis is affecting the league right down to its local clubs.
Allegations that players as young as 14 have been supplied the drug by coaches, for performance enhancing purpose’s, undermines the reputation of local football clubs as the heart of suburban and regional communities. As regional clubs suffer from dwindling memberships they cannot afford to lose their position of respect and need to be more aware than ever of the standards they promote and value.
The high rate of addiction from ice means that football clubs and communities need to act now in addressing these problems with danger posed not just to users, but also to other players who at are risk from ice users increased or out of control aggression on the field.
Clubs need to stay true to their ideals and work with the community to fight ice. This will be crucial to ensuring strong and lasting clubs as stories of clubs losing star players to addiction increases.
Promising careers such as that of young Hawthorn recruit Dayle Garletts have been crushed by addiction and where athletic participation was once seen as a good way to keep kids out of illegal activities shows clubs can no longer be complacent.
Clubs need to set the rules and stick by them no matter how painful that may be. Only with very clear boundaries will clubs be able to eradicate the problem. Well-communicated vision and values followed by strict enforcement is required.