Clubs aiming to kick bullying into touch

DONNA-LEE BIDDLE
Last updated 14:19 25/08/2014

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An anti-bullying campaign to be trialled in rugby league clubs will be a first for the Waikato.

Upper Central Zone Rugby League (UCZ), the regulatory board for the Waikato and three other districts, have rolled out a project that identifies and addresses anti-bullying attitudes or behaviours that may be present in club environments, both on and off the field.

UCZ Community Development Manager Jamie Rei said bullying and other abusive behaviour was not only a national problem but a critical community issue.

"Bullying is something we know can take place in the rugby league setting, so having the opportunity to address this at a club level and support them to work on and promote a positive stance is exciting," Rei said.

The project, Tackling Bullying Behaviours in our Club, will be trialled in two communities: in Tokoroa at the Forest Falcons and Pacific Sharks clubs and in Ngaruawahia at the Turangawaewae and Ngaruawahia Panthers clubs.Those clubs have been recognised as social hubs in their communities.

Rei hopes to consult everyone who has an interest in the club - from players, to whanau, to officials - in the hope that it will produce a realistic snapshot of their current social situation, which will lead to developments and activities to address and reduce incidents of bullying.

"I am excited by the intentions of this role, in particular the off-field focus," Rei said.

"Many issues away from the field can have an impact on not only the players, but the wider whanau and community."

UCZ General Manager Sash Stosic, said they had been working on the anti-bullying project for two-years and with support from the Ministry of Development, they were able to support issues of bullying within the clubs' communities.

"We see this project as a catalyst to the on-going commitment from the Upper Central Zone to support our clubs with their social, health and family needs," Stosic said.

■ Donna-Lee Biddle is a Wintec journalism student.

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- Waikato Times

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