The Essendon District Football League will become the first suburban football competition in Australia to have an illicit-drugs policy.
The league has been working to create a policy for some time after being contacted by numerous clubs on the eve of the current season.
The Australian Drug Foundation, EDFL chief executive Marc Turri and league officials met with clubs last week to outline the initial policy.
“We looked at where the league was at and where society was at,” Turri said.
“We have done a really good job as a sporting community in terms of awareness of alcohol at football and the need to drink responsibly, and we thought it was logical to have a policy that all the clubs would implement when it came to illicit drugs.”
The EDFL illicit-drugs policy will focus on educating players and officials about the potential warning signs of drug use.
It will not involve specific testing for drugs.
“It is all about education,” Turri explained. “Not only education for the players … also the education of the volunteers in case they ever suspect there may be a concern with somebody and [want to know] the best way to manage it.
“All the clubs now have a template policy they can take back to their committees and review. They can alter it if necessary.”
The EDFL will meet with clubs again in October to get feedback on how the drugs policy has worked and to implement any changes.
Keilor Football Club president Brad Bult said his club fully supported the policy.
“We think it’s a great idea for the league and for clubs. We have a no-drugs policy at our club. We’re such a big junior club and we have always said straight out that we won’t stand for any of that. We’re very strong on it and senior coach Mick McGuane is very strong on it, too.”