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Why this Junior Football Club grand final win is a Game Changer

Last weekend the Clarence Junior Football Club’s Under 14’s Division A team, competing in the 2015 Southern Tasmanian Junior Football competition, took to the field for their final game of an already successful season.

The squad has run onto the grounds each week of the competition proudly wearing their Clarence Team jerseys complete with the Game Changer logo, and as the founder of Game Changer and father of one of the players I couldn’t be prouder.

Game Changer is a grassroots campaign aimed at tackling unhealthy advertising in sport.

A couple of years ago I became very aware and increasingly concerned that my own children couldn’t watch televised sport without being bombarded by advertising and the promotion of alcohol and fast food.

I was compelled to do something about it, and the Game Changer campaign was born.

Game Changer has enjoyed modest success bringing the issue to media attention, both in my home state of Tasmania and nationally around the country. I’ve taken the fight to the AFL and Cricket Australia, and attracted the generous support of former Australian Rally Champion Razvan Vlad, Game Changer’s first ambassador.

Last year I was approached by Clarence Junior Football Club Coach, Mark Drury about a possible partnership deal.

Mark and I both share a passion for sport and the positive role it can play in the development of young men.

We both agree that junior sport is both the right place and the right time to be encouraging young men to make smart, healthy choices.

With the support of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) a three year sponsorship arrangement was secured that would see the Clarence Juniors (Under 13 and Under 14 teams) proudly display the Game Changer logo on their jerseys.

The deal was initially met with some resistance by a league long conditioned to receiving lucrative sponsorship from a major alcohol or fast food provider, however thankfully the importance of promoting healthy messages was recognised.

It is our belief that every young person should be given the best possible environment to learn healthy habits to take into their adult life.

What better place to provide this than a proactive sports club that holds the wellbeing of their members in such high regard.

The Clarence Junior Football Club’s players are all very mature for their age and embraced learning both on and off the field.

My son Sam and six of his teammates from the Lindisfarne Junior Football Club joined Clarence this season as they didn’t have enough numbers to form a side. They fitted in beautifully and after many months of hard training sessions and victories along the way, have now been crowned premiers for the 2015 season.

I commend their coach Mark for his development of the boys during the year. He is an excellent leader of young men and is well respected by the boys, and all those involved with junior sport in Southern Tasmania.

Future generations need guidance to make informed choices on what they are consuming, yet too little is being done to educate our youth on what’s needed to function well and maintain good health, for life.

Looking forward, it is my long-term vision that more clubs like Clarence come on board as ambassadors for Game Changer to ensure that young people are receiving positive messages through sport.

Thanks to Michael Thorn and his team at FARE for helping keep the Game Changer program alive.

The Clarence boys truly appreciate it.

Aaron Schultz

Aaron is a father of two from Hobart, Tasmania. He is the founder of Game Changer, a grassroots campaign tackling unhealthy advertising in sport. Follow @GameChanger1234 on Twitter and like Game Changer on Facebook.


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