Good­bye to booze

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

A CENTURY-old club is break­ing new ground by go­ing cold turkey this year.

Richmond Rovers Rugby League & Sports Club, based at Grey Lynn Park, has been al­co­hol-free since March 17.

‘‘We’re ba­si­cally pro­mot­ing this as a sports club, not a drink­ing club,’’ chair­man Gus Fepuleai says.

‘‘It’s about for­ward think­ing and try­ing to get al­co­hol right away from our kids. We’ve got to change that cul­ture of drink­ing and sports that’s been around for­ever.’’

The de­ci­sion was made be­cause of is­sues with drink­ing in Grey Lynn Park where an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, noise and lit­ter have been the sub­ject of fre­quent com­plaints from neigh­bours in the past three years, he says.

The club wants to bring the fo­cus back to sport.

‘‘Rugby league has been cop­ping the stick for a long time and it’s about time we’re do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive.

‘‘Some­one has to take the lead. It’s our per­for­mance on the field that is im­por­tant and look­ing af­ter the wel­fare of our play­ers, kids and com­mu­nity.’’

The club will lose rev­enue from the bar but will save money by not need­ing to hire additional staff and ex­tra se­cu­rity at the premises, Mr Fepuleai says.

Grey Lynn Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Dan Sal­mon says the de­ci­sion to re­move al­co­hol is a brave one.

The sports club has been work­ing hard to fos­ter re­la­tion­ships with other or­gan­i­sa­tions in the area as well as the park’s neigh­bours, he says.

‘‘I think it’s a big and bold step they’ve made to try and ad­dress those is­sues.

‘‘I re­ally hope they get sup­port from the com­mu­nity and the club for do­ing it. It’s def­i­nitely some­thing to watch and hope­fully other sports clubs around the coun­try might fol­low.’’

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board deputy chair­woman Pippa Coom says the club has made the de­ci­sion with its fu­ture in mind.

‘‘It’s re­ally coura­geous that they’ve done it. I know it is a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for them but I per­son­ally think they’ve re­ally done the right thing.’’

Mr Fepuleai says the board is also push­ing for new fa­cil­i­ties at the Grey Lynn Park site and is start­ing a two to five-year busi­ness plan to in­crease mem­ber­ship with the aim of keep­ing Richmond go­ing for the next 100 years.

The club wants to take part in the Grey Lynn Park Fes­ti­val this year and will fo­cus on sell­ing healthy drinks and food at the clu­b­rooms, he says.

‘‘It’s about the val­ues and let­ting the kids know what is right and what is wrong.

‘‘You can ac­cess al­co­hol any­where. What’s the big deal with not hav­ing it right in front of our kids’ faces?’’

Photo: LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

Big move: Richmond Rovers chair­man Gus Fepuleai says cut­ting al­co­hol from the club was a tough de­ci­sion.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz to see a video of the Richmond Rovers’ cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tion.

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