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League Club distances itself from pokie harm


...Press Release...
March 27, 2008
League Club distances itself from pokie harm.

In an era where many sports clubs are struggling to survive one league club is trying innovative ways of regaining community support.

The Mt Wellington Rugby League Club has been home to many league greats in its 60 year history. In more recent times it fell into a severe decline but is steadily rebuilding itself by reaching out to its local community with a message of encouragement to get involved in healthy activities.

And it's backing up this healthy message with plans to free itself of pokie funding.

Club president Dean Kini says the club wants to become a centre of healthy activities for the whole family and relying heavily on funding from the sale of alcohol or gambling grants is not compatible with this.

"The pokies are doing a huge amount of harm in our community," he says.

"We have become too dependant on this harm to keep our club going and we need to find other ways of funding our club.

"We know it can't happen overnight but that's the direction we are headed in.

"We want to make our club the centre of healthy community and sporting activities, not a place that is associated with excessive alcohol consumption or gambling."

The club is hosting a community day this Saturday where local youngsters will be joined by past and present senior club players in a range of sporting and other fun events.

The community day will be supported by the Problem Gambling Foundation and Maori Public Health provider, Hapai Te Hauora Tapui which has previously provided support with the clubs health initiatives.

Te Rihia Manning, spokesperson for Hapai Te Hauora, says that working with the club provides an opportunity for raising awareness around gambling related issues in the wider community which is a key part of her organisations work.
Problem Gambling Foundation CEO John Stansfield says there is a sad irony in sporting clubs that are all about healthy activities having to rely on funding from a source that impoverished the very people who supported them.

"I really admire the way this club has decided to challenge a failed funding model and set an independant course based on meeting the real needs of its supporters and the local community rather than perpetuating a cycle of harm," he says.


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