THERE is no room and no excuse in our game for poor behaviour.
In a bad weekend for country football, an on-field brawl sparked by supporters in Darley and an altercation between an under-18 coach and player at Melton South were disappointing lows in the Ballarat Football League.
Such incidents have no place in grassroots arenas where club passion runs high but ultimately the focus is on fostering welcoming, inclusive environments, socially and physically for players, supporters and club and match officials.
It is positive to note both clubs at the heart of each incident were quick to take action – banning, suspending or standing down individuals responsible.
Darley officials also issued an extensive statement, including apologies to members and the wider football community for a brawl they say they were “disturbed” to see play out.
While investigations are already underway, such actions already send a clear signal inappropriate behaviour has no place in our communities.
Grassroots football-netball clubs, at the heart of communities across the region, are generally booming with junior ranks, netball teams and the fast-growing female football game.
Senior football is still widely regarded as the marquee team – and there comes a responsibility for setting the tone on and off the ground.
Watch vision of the Darley brawl here.
This includes those watching on, whether they are club members or not.
Football culture has changed dramatically, particularly in the past few seasons with an increasing focus on female participation and family involvement.
Sporting clubs tend to be microcosms of our society.
Abusive behaviour and offensive language about the grounds reflect broader societal and community issues.
But when such incidents arise, how we react is important in showing leadership and generating discussion for learnings and awareness on such issues.
Broadcaster Meshel Laurie did just this in penning an open letter to Barry Hall at the weekend after the former AFL star was sacked on the spot by his commercial radio station for a vulgar pre-match joke – it is about the issue rather than the person.
Whatever was said or done in the weekend’s incidents are not the first of their kind and will unlikely be the last.
How clubs, the league, rivals and the wider Ballarat community talks and acts on such issues are now what matters most.