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Goodbye to booze

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
Richmond Rovers

OLD SITE: Richmond Rovers is working on a new look for 2014.

Gus Fepuleai
Lauren Priestley
BIG MOVE: Richmond Rovers chairman Gus Fepuleai says cutting alcohol from the club was a tough decision.

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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?"

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