IT’S like that TV commercial, where a dad is asked how many people he thinks is acceptable to lose on the roads.
When he says, “probably 70”, and 70 family members walk out, he changes his answer to “zero” as he wipes a tear from his face.
That’s how Dalyston Football Netball Club President Andy Thomas describes the importance of this weekend’s inaugural TAC Towards Zero Round.
“We treat everyone as part of the family,” says Andy, sitting in the new clubrooms at Dalyston, watching over the thirds play against Korumburra-Bena on Saturday.
“It’s not acceptable to have anyone lost on the road.”
For Dalyston, the message behind this weekend’s game at Garfield strikes close to home.
In the last five years, the club’s lost two of their young footballers on the road.
“We’re still coping. It has been a struggle.
“Road trauma is a very real issue, especially for those aged between 18 and 24.”
Football clubs are well positioned to help get the road safety message across to younger generations.
“You look at why the TAC and the AFL are going to grassroots footy to promote this issue. That’s where it’s the most important.
“We have to earn respect from all our people and if they recognise that we care for them and are representing their best interests, maybe it will sink in to their consciousness a little bit better.”
Dalyston captain Blake Carew will wear the number ‘0’ instead of his usual jumper against Garfield this Saturday, to highlight the fact that zero lives lost on our roads is possible.
“This year the number of lives lost on the roads is higher than last year, which is not acceptable,” says Andy.
“It’s not just our club. We want people all throughout South Gippsland to take a little bit more care and think about what they’re doing.”
There have been 172 lives lost on the roads this year, compared to 113 at the same time last year.
“I looked at it and thought this was gonna be tough,” he said of this interview.
“But it’s an important message to get out there. We just have to connect and get it out there because we don’t want this to happen to anyone else.
“We’ve experienced what it’s like to go through. It’s happened twice in five years. It’s brutal. It’s heart-breaking.
“It’s a cold, desolate feeling when one of your players is involved in a car accident.
“It rips at the heartstrings.”
Andy says we all play a crucial role in reaching zero lives lost.
“We want the little kids out here to grow into young adults,” Andy says, overlooking the thirds.
“We want them to have the right message, the right attitude, when they get there.
“It’s all about us as adults communicating with them and trying to steer them down the right track.”
The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has stopped calling it the ‘road toll’ and instead says ‘lives lost’.
The problem with talking about the road toll, according to the TAC, is that it implies that road trauma is an acceptable cost of having roads. A toll is the price we pay for using something – with toll roads, for example.
The inaugural TAC Towards Zero Round will see more than 1000 local football captains, as well as other team players, wearing the number 0 on their backs.