With more than 20,000 registered players, Sutherland Football Association is the largest in Australia. Don’t Mess with Drugs Foundation was in the “Shire” last night conducting its program with under 16 representative players from both Sutherland Football Association and Sutherland Sharks NPL club. The players from both squads have only just been chosen following recent trials. A requirement once selected for players from both the Association and the NPL club, was to complete the DMWD program. Lessons 1 and 2 were conducted last night by the highly talented sports education teacher, Chloe Kerr currently employed by the BCA National Education Group. Chloe, was also the “educator” for the recent DMWD major pilot two program with Hockey NSW. The third and final lesson in this major pilot three, will be completed next Thursday night. At the conclusion next week, the 16 players from Sutherland Football Association and the 16 players from Sutherland Sharks NPL Clubs will each receive a Certificate acknowledging their completion of the program. The Don’t Mess with Drugs Foundation Education Program has attracted considerable media interest from the start. The major pilot one program at Blacktown Football Association was covered live on Fox Sports. Pilot two being conducted with elite players from Hockey NSW will feature in a special upcoming on Channel seven news. The Sports Editor of the local newspaper the Sutherland Leader Andrew Parkinson is writing a story on the major pilot 3 program.

Also present at the pilot were some parents of the players and coaches of the representative teams. Their feedback was most positive. Sutherland Football Association General Manager, Jon Long thoroughly enjoyed the presentation. “The players were engaged from the start, keeping 16 year olds interested for a long period is not easy, but, they really took on board the information provided. The presenter did an exceptional job at maintaining and sustaining their interest. They really benefited from the presentation, I am certain. I thought it was just brilliant, straight to the point with enough of the shock factor to have the right impact.”

Clearly, as more pilot programs are completed, the product is continuing to be streamlined and is becoming more effective. Brent Plimpton the Community Services Manager for the Don’t Mess with Drugs Foundation thought this was the best presentation so far. “I think the extra interaction component, and the video’s which were very graphic in parts, had the desired effect. The athletes were engaged throughout and responded really well when asked questions which at times were awkward for them. Next week will test them even more, because lesson 3 is totally interactive and will call on their involvement from the start.”

The proactive approach of the DMWD education program was well received by the parents who were on hand. They believe conversations with their sons will be easier after having watched the presentation. “It gives us a good talking point in conversations at home. It helps overcome the awkwardness of discussing drugs which some parents have.” That was the response from one parent who preferred not to be named. The Don’t Mess with Drugs Foundation will conclude its education pilot 2 program at Sutherland Football Association and Sutherland Sharks NPL Club next Thursday night at the Harrie Dening Centre. The final education program for DMWD in 2017 will be the concluding lesson 3 with the 110 elite athletes from Hockey NSW on December 16 and 17.