PRIMARY school aged athletes are being encouraged to have conversations about respectful relationships, as part of a unique partnership between Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club and charity Got Your Back Sista.
Grandmother of eight Jan Bynon had previously worked with the charity providing items for and helping prepare homes for women leaving domestic violence.
She said her husband Frank had sponsored the club’s senior teams, but seeing their grandson take to the field ignited a desire to deliver an important message to the more junior members.
“I was looking at all the families there and thought ‘This would be a good way to get a message out about teaching children about respect for women and themselves,” Ms Bynon said.
“These kids are our future, they’re everything.
“When you put something out there like ‘Say no to domestic violence’ it starts conversations.
“Maybe someone will turn around and ask for help. The kids may say ‘What is this all about?’”
The Bynons gave the club a large inflatable hand that says ‘Say no to domestic violence’ to display at home games and offered sponsorship in return for the charity’s logo to be included on shirts and shorts.
“One mother who had been affected said she was so happy to be involved with a club that supported victims of domestic violence”.
Hawks Juniors president Ben McMillan said the “family oriented” club hoped to broaden involvement beyond the players aged five to 16 to the seniors too.
“I think it’s never too young to start conversations with kids. They need to know if they see or experience violence it’s not acceptable, should not be happening and they can speak to people at the club about it.”
He said the club held end-of season closed door sessions with players aged 12 to 16 and their parents about issues around respect and that domestic violence would be added to the agenda.
Ms Bynon said there were similarities between healthy relationships and rugby.
“The aim is to protect the ball and do everything you can to look after it and get it to the other end.”
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