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Balance backs Tyneside youth team ahead of World Cup

Balance supports Wallsend Boys Club

Balance supports Wallsend Boys Club

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 Wallsend Boys Club in North Tyneside.

The under 11s team at the famous grassroots football club – which boasts Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley as former players – will be kitted out in a new strip for the next two seasons thanks to the deal.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We’re proud to be able to sponsor Wallsend Boys under 11s team kit for the next two years. The club is an institution and has contributed to nurturing the talents world class footballers for decades. 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.”

Wallsend Boys Club was founded by the Swan Hunter Shipbuilders in 1904 with an aim to help educate apprentices and develop their physical, mental and spiritual capacity. The ethos of the club still remains strong today with scores of talented youngsters coming through the ranks every year.

Steve Dale, Chairman of the club, said: “Wallsend Boys Club is very grateful to Balance for the sponsorship of our under 11’s team kit for the next two years. The Club passionately believes that active participation in sport by young people is one of the most effective ways that we can help them build and develop healthy habits for the rest of their lives.”

Marietta Evans, North Tyneside’s Director of Public Health, said: “In North Tyneside we are keen to encourage children and young people to enjoy football and take part in sport as a great way to exercise and improve their health. However, we also want to guard against the link between drinking alcohol and sport from being seen as the norm among younger audiences.”