Find us on Facebook

alcohol health alliance uk

Balance backs Darlington youth team ahead of World Cup

Balance supports Darlington Spraire Lads & Lasses FC

Balance supports Darlington Spraire Lads & Lasses FC

Posted 11/06/14

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is urging for time to be called on alcohol sports sponsorship.

Coinciding with the start of the FIFA World Cup, Balance is launching the ‘alcohol sponsorship: let’s kick it out’ campaign to highlight the influence that alcohol marketing, and in particular sports sponsorship, has on children and young people.

To kick off the campaign and in a show of commitment to local organisations already working tirelessly to give North East children the best start to a healthy life by encouraging sports participation, Balance has sponsored a team kit for Darlington Spraire Lads & Lasses FC.

The under 9s team at the grassroots football club will be kitted out in a new strip for the upcoming season thanks to the deal.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We’re proud to be able to sponsor Darlington Spraire’s under 9s team kit. The club has contributed to nurturing the talents of local youngsters for more than 30 years. It’s important for sports clubs such as this to engage children in sport and encourage them to live healthy, happy lives.”

The alcohol industry spends in the region of £800m a year on marketing so it’s no surprise that many youngsters now recognise alcohol brands more than leading biscuit brands.

The recent FA Cup final between Arsenal and Hull at Wembley Stadium was watched by around 1 million children in the UK during which sponsors Budweiser bombarded viewers with an array of advertisements.

From the dressing room to the dugouts to the pitch-side signage and even the players’ shirts, for youngsters enjoying the game there was no escape from the kind of excessive alcohol promotion that dominates many major sports events.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, added: “Young people today are exposed to alcohol marketing when they turn on the TV, radio, and even at the cinema so it’s not realistic to expect them to be able to make healthy decisions around alcohol when the messages they receive promote drinking as the social norm.

“Alcohol advertising on TV is seen more often by children than adults and that kind of exposure has a huge impact on their attitudes towards drinking. You only have to look at research which showed that 11 year olds are more familiar with leading alcohol brands than those of leading biscuit or ice-cream brands to realise the scale of the problem.

“Sport appeals to all age groups and football in particular is followed by large numbers of children and young people. Our children should be able to watch their favourite sports without being constantly exposed to alcohol marketing.

“The UK has one of the most relaxed approaches to alcohol sponsorship and sport in Europe. France has already implemented a ban and Ireland is considering a similar approach. It’s time for us to follow suit.”

Darlington Spraire Lads & Lasses has 21 teams and the club is run by unpaid volunteers. Founded 32 years ago, one of its main aims is to for all children to be given the chance to enjoy the experience of sport and also to maintain fitness levels.

The club’s Chairman, Ronnie Joyeux, said: "As the only FA Charter Standard Community Club in Darlington, Spraire Lads & Lasses FC are delighted to welcome Balance as sponsors of our new under 9 team.

“Demand for access to our club continues to grow and we are keen to work with Balance due to the shared interest of our organisations in the health and wellbeing of young footballers from across our community. This week’s launch will be the start of an excellent relationship for the benefit of all our children.”

Councillor Andy Scott, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Partnerships, said: “This sponsorship deal will not only support young people in their chosen sport but will hopefully help to reinforce the message to youngsters that alcohol and sport do not go hand in hand and that there are positive lifestyle choices to be made in all areas of life that do not involve drinking alcohol.”