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Make a game plan to help young people love the game

Shane Lucas

This May, the Foundation’s Love the Game sporting partners are uniting across many codes – AFL, soccer, netball, basketball and cricket – to urge parents and sporting coaches to make a game plan to interrupt the normalisation of sports betting among young people.

Like us, our Love the Game partners know a lot about young people and sports betting.

They know that the generation born at the end of the 1990s is the first to grow up with gambling advertising all around them.

They know that young men 18 to 24 years make up almost a third of sports bettors in Victoria with participation by young women also rising.

And they know that sports betting advertising makes gambling look fun and social with the young people in the ads always winning and grinning … but we all know that’s not always the case when you gamble.

…sports betting advertising makes gambling look fun and social…

To help young people better understand the risks associated with gambling, we need a game plan. We need to talk to kids about the risks associated with gambling.

Our 2022 Love the Game campaign is therefore focused on those vital role models for children aged between 12 and 17: parents and sporting coaches.

In this edition of Inside gambling, we are delighted to have legendary Socceroo and Western United coach John Aloisi share his perspective on gambling and the beautiful game. John speaks as both a coach and a parent. He has observed how his own kids and their peers have been over-exposed to sports betting ads and come to see betting on sport as ‘normal’ and without risk.

Alongside John, our 2022 Love the Game campaign features AFL coaches like Carlton’s Michael Voss and Richmond’s Damian Hardwick, and coaches from other codes like Simone McKinnis from the Melbourne Vixens and David Saker from the Melbourne Renegades.

As parents and coaches, we can all build relationships of trust…

Now, I might not have reached the dizzy heights of coaching in the A-League or the AFL but, like John Aloisi, I am also a parent and a coach. Over the past 10 seasons, I have been privileged to coach my own kids and other young cricketers aged from six to 16 – boys and girls – and watch them develop their skills and mature into fantastic young people.

As parents and coaches, we can all build relationships of trust and encourage young people to love the games they play and follow, not focus on the odds offered by the sports betting companies. We can help ensure that when these kids are old enough to legally bet, they have a more realistic understanding of the risks of gambling and a genuine passion for sport, not betting on sport.

So, my call to fellow parents and coaches is this: let’s make a game plan. Let’s help our kids change the conversation about betting and sport. Let’s encourage them to ignore the odds, and to celebrate the skills, teamwork, fun and friendships that sport brings to our communities. Let’s have a game plan that will help young people make informed and realistic decisions about gambling in the future.

Let’s encourage our kids to love the game, not the odds.

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