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Balance backs North East youth teams ahead of World Cup

Balance backs Forest Hall YPC

Balance backs Bishop Auckland St Mary's FC

Balance backs Acklam FC

Posted 13/06/18

Balance is urging for time to be called on alcohol sports sponsorship as millions of children will be exposed to alcohol adverts during the World Cup.

Coinciding with the start of the FIFA 2018 World Cup, Balance is highlighting the damaging influence that alcohol marketing and sports sponsorship can have on children and young people.

To kick off the campaign and to help local sports clubs working to give North East children the best start to a healthy active life, Balance has sponsored team kits for Bishop Auckland St Mary’s Juniors Under 10s, Forest Hall YPC Under 15s, and Acklam FC Under 9s.

During the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, researchers found there were more than 100 alcohol marketing messages per televised match in the UK, France and Ireland. And research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing encourages children to drink at an earlier age and in greater quantities than they otherwise would.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “The World Cup is not only a celebration of football, but also a festival of alcohol advertising by big alcohol brands on TV and social media. The event will be watched by millions of children and young people who will be exposed to these adverts. We believe they should be able to watch their sport without being constantly exposed to alcohol marketing.

“We’re proud to be able to sponsor team kits for Bishop Auckland St Mary’s Juniors Under 10’s, Forest Hall YPC Under 15s and Acklam FC Under 9s. These clubs have contributed to nurturing the talents of young people in the North East for years. It’s important for sports clubs such as this to engage children in sport and encourage them to live healthy, happy lives.”

One of FIFA’s official World Cup partners is already boasting its World Cup campaign will run alcohol adverts across 50 countries around the globe, involve 15, 30 and 90-second adverts on TV and social media, and will even involve sailing a branded boat down the River Thames.

Drinking alcohol can damage a child's health, even if they're 15 or older, affecting normal development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones. Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guidance recommends to children and their parents that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option, and if children drink alcohol, it should not be until at least the age of 15 years and never in excess.

Currently alcohol advertising in England is self-regulated by the industry through a voluntary code of practice. For example, adverts should not link alcohol consumption with sports achievement or sexual success, and should not be shown during programmes with particular appeal to children. However, the evidence is clear that children are still exposed in huge numbers.

A review by Public Health England of the effectiveness of alcohol policies found that in the UK, 10-15 year olds are more likely to see certain TV alcohol adverts than adults. PHE concluded that “self-regulatory systems that govern alcohol marketing practices are not meeting their intended goal of protecting vulnerable populations.”

Bishop Auckland St. Mary’s Junior’s has 21 teams ranging from Little Stars (Under 5s) to Under 23s and was awarded the accolade of Durham and Dales Junior Sports Club of the Year Award in 2017. The club has a strong ethos of supporting initiatives to improve the health of its young people, becoming the first junior football club in County Durham to implement smoke free sidelines.

Steve Coulthard, the Chairman of Bishop Auckland St. Mary’s Junior Football Club, said: “I am delighted that Balance North East have chosen to sponsor one of our teams and, as a club, we are happy to support Balance in their ambition to kick alcohol promotion out of the sight of young people.”

“In the adult world, football and alcohol seem to go hand in hand which sends our young athletes the wrong message. At Junior Football Clubs we are often in the unique position of seeing the children who play for us grow from toddlers into young adults. I’d like to think we can play a part in helping the children who are part of our club to make healthy choices and achieve their footballing potential. Alcohol certainly has no place in grassroots football.”

Forest Hall YPC was established in 1996 and is a FA Community Football Club hat has teams of all abilities ranging from U7-U18.

Terry Denwood the Coach of Forest Hall YPC said: “We are proud to have Balance as a sponsor for our Under 15’s team as we fully support the work they do. As a FA Community Football Club we are committed to providing a safe environment for local children to play football and we believe that inspiring children to play sport is the best way to encourage them to lead a healthy and active life.”

Acklam FC was established in 2005 and plays in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance and offers a safe friendly environment for the children of the local area to play football.

Club Secretary, Craig Hurndall, said: “We are a Charter Standard Club and this means there are certain standards that we must adhere to. The scheme is a best practice guide that sets standards of Coaching, Administration and Child Protection for all grassroots clubs.

“We pride ourselves on being a family club and are very happy to be associated with Balance as a team sponsor for our Under 9’s team. We fully support Balance and its campaign and believe that active participation in sport by young people is one of the best ways to promote healthy habits for the children for the rest of their lives.”