Reduce the Risks of End-of-Season Events

While end-of-year celebrations or the year-end trip away are as much of a fixture on the community football calendar as the grand final, the problems that can arise from excessive drinking or out-of-control behaviour can be damaging and risky to players, the club and the community at large.

Nobody wants to dampen enthusiastic spirits, but clubs can take various steps to ensure their end-of-year celebration doesn't turn into an end-of-year catastrophe.

Know the risks

Risks to clubs and players include:

Health risks: Because drinking is often a big part of end-of-year celebrations, the health risks from excessive alcohol include:

  • Increased violence and assault
  • Potential of indulging in risky behaviour such as swimming, driving, having unsafe sex
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Trauma from passing out

Legal risks: Depending on the circumstances, it is possible a football club can be liable for injuries or damage to property occurred during an end-of-season event organised by the club.

Club liability depends on:

  • Whether the club owes a duty of care to the player in relation to the event
  • Whether the club breached this duty (by failing to take all reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable risks)
  • Any loss or damages as a result of the accident

According to the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) Good Sports website, "clubs could be liable if they promote and endorse these types of activities to their members resulting in damage to people or property".

What can clubs do?

Clubs can reduce the risks to both the health of individuals and liability of the club by not endorsing any events that involve or encourage excessive drinking, which also includes not fundraising throughout the year for these type of events.

If players organise their own event, the club should make it quite clear that:

  • The players and other participants' health, welfare and safety are of much concern to the club
  • The club does not condone any conduct or activity that could bring the club's image into disrepute
  • It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to drink alcohol
Reducing alcohol-related harm

To reduce the risks of alcohol-related harms at end-of-season events, the ADF suggests:

  • Meet with the person or people organising the event and discuss what is planned Identify possible risks and measures to be taken to reduce those risks
  • Ensure no one under 18 is involved in the event
  • Clearly explain what the club considers acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
  • Meet with the whole group before they depart to explain the above – if this is not possible, meet with the organisers and ensure they inform other participants
  • For trips away, encourage transport that does not require anyone to drive. Where driving a bus, assist
    • To organise a trained driver or ensure at least two people will act as designated drivers
    • Ensure drivers have an appropriate license and keep zero blood alcohol content
    • Encourage regular meals and food being eaten throughout the day
  • Consider a ‘buddy’ system, whereby delegated participants agree not to drink and look after others
  • For end of year celebration type events, encourage use of taxis or a bus (and driver)
  • Ensure suitable insurance coverage is obtained for the event

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Allan McKinnon, 03-09-10 15:57:
Clubs should ensure that one or preferably more sober, responsible, mature adults attend the event to act as a moderating influence against risk and to deal with situations should they arise.
Tania, 03-09-10 20:59:
That is so true for Senior teams, but as my kids are still in Youth and Junior footy, that does not really apply to them at this stage. But it is a good point for the future as these kids will look up to Seniors of the clubs and if they show unacceptable behaviour then the kids will want to portray that same behaviour.
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