Sporting codes take a stand, say thuggery must stop

LOCAL sporting codes have come out swinging, condemning the actions of abusive fans and overzealous parents.

After the cowardly attack on 20-year-old referee Zac Wilson following the Calliope versus Brothers A-grade rugby league match at Calliope on Saturday, the message is zero-tolerance from Gladstone sport clubs.

CQ Mariners head coach and Football Queensland regional development officer Joe Fenech said his fledgling club had no time for players and parents abusing opponents or referees.

"I think the onus is certainly on the players and supporters to show respect. They (referees) make mistakes, we all do," Mr Fenech said.

One way the Mariners combat abusive behaviour is through having all parents sign a code of conduct, clearly outlining their responsibilities and the behaviour expected of them.

"Once we selected the kids, we had the parents of each age group sit down and watch a DVD called Respect ... we explained before they signed on for the club there was a set of rules they (players and parents) had to abide by," Mr Fenech said.

I'm pretty big on the parents not being too hard on the kids. You don't live your career through your kid.

For the Calliope Roosters, gutted by the cowardly actions of last weekend's mystery attacker, their club is built on family values and offering a safe environment for fans, spectators and officials.

"It's not the Calliope way to king hit someone," Calliope vice-president Peter Masters said.

The Roosters are not alone.

Regional sporting clubs rely on volunteers, many of whom are referees, meaning respect and discipline is paramount, especially for local boxing coach Mick Daly.

"If one of my kids ever hit a referee that's it, he'd be kicked out and banned for life," Mr Daly said.

"He'd never fight again for my gym."

A three-strike policy implemented at his gym had kept his charges in good stead, with Mr Daly able to count on one hand the number of issues he'd had with parents in the past 15 years he'd been in the boxing game.

"I'm pretty big on the parents not being too hard on the kids," he said.

"You don't live your career through your kid."

Gladstone Basketball referees' co-ordinator Pauline Kelly, an experienced former state league umpire herself, said they had clamped down on unruly crowd behaviour recently.

"We consulted our state body and said, 'Right, how do we curb this?', as we could see it sneaking in," she said.

Some innovative new sin-bin rules have had an immediate impact on court, and calmed fans, whose passions used to spill over at times, Ms Kelly said.

"When spectators were concerned, gender (of the players and officials) didn't matter (with crowd abuse)," she recalled.



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