Edition #6: Gambling and sport

Reclink players on the playing field taking a break from play
Reclink players on the playing field taking a break from play
Reclink Australia cricketers, photo: Ross Bird

Gambling – it’s just not cricket

Brian Presnell was living in and out of rooming houses when he saw a Reclink poster at a community centre 16 years ago. It was for a tenpin bowling day. He went along and had such a good time, he started a Reclink team. At the end of the year, they won the competition.

‘It was the first competition I’d ever been in. It took me out of my own zone,’ he says.

‘The trophy said, “The champion of champions”. I’m looking at myself, going “You’ve become the champion of that. What else is in you?” And then the Reclink football pamphlet popped up two weeks later.’

Now a Reclink ambassador, Brian recently helped celebrate the start of the cricket season in which 11 Reclink teams will battle it out in four competitions sponsored by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Match of the day

For over 25 years, Reclink Australia has been providing sport and art programs for people experiencing disadvantage. They work with some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of the community, including people facing significant mental health challenges, disability, homelessness, substance abuse and economic hardship. They aim to improve mental and physical health through recreation.

‘It was the first competition I’d ever been in. It took me out of my own zone.’

Reclink Australia ambassador Brian Presnell

In June 2016, Reclink became a foundation partner by signing up to our LOVE THE GAME Sporting Club Program. Given research suggests the absence of alternative recreational activities may make people more likely to gamble, the partnership is a match made in heaven.

Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo says both organisations share common values and a desire to ensure sporting clubs are safe and healthy environments.

‘We’re thrilled to be working with Reclink. The partnership will not only help support and engage vulnerable people, but it will also raise community awareness of the risks associated with gambling,’ he says.

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Reclink Australia chief executive John Ballin says the organisation has seen firsthand the devastating impact gambling has on the lives of people experiencing disadvantage.

‘Our partnership with the foundation will help inform vulnerable communities of the risks of gambling and how to get support if they need it.’

Brian is also very pleased that Reclink and the foundation are joining forces, not least because of the harm he has personally experienced from gambling.

‘I’ve had a gambling issue myself. I gave it away about 15 years ago. You feel lost, empty, narky at yourself, narky at the world and narky at the bloody place you went to. But next fortnight, where are you? Straight back there.’

‘Our partnership with the foundation will help inform vulnerable communities of the risks of gambling and how to get support if they need it.’

Reclink Australia chief executive John Ballin

(L to R) Reclink Australia ambassador Brian Presnell,  foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, Reclink Australia chief executive John Ballis, photo: Paul Jeffers(L to R) Reclink Australia ambassador Brian Presnell, foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, Reclink Australia chief executive John Ballis, photo: Paul Jeffers

Howzat?

The four Reclink cricket competitions will run in Melbourne and regional Victoria from October 2016 to February 2017, bringing people from diverse communities together to take part in a team sport.

Throughout the cricket season, local community educators will run information sessions with the teams to raise awareness of the risks associated with gambling and of the Gambler’s Help services available.

This summer, Brian will be a spectator.

‘I won’t be playing in the upcoming season. I’m resting. I’ve had a big year with my footy and my running and the half-marathon. The ambassador just gets to sit back a little bit now.’

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