The Central Gippsland Cricket Association will roll out the welcome mat for former AFL great David Schwarz next week when he visits the Latrobe Valley to talk about the perils of gambling addiction.
The David Schwarz Program took out the 2012 International Gaming Award for Best Responsible Gambling Program in London and the former Melbourne star continues to serve as an ambassador for responsible gambling.
During his heyday, Schwarz was a talented forward for the Demons and earned the club’s 1999 best and fairest award and played a pivotal role in helping the side to the 2000 grand final.
He played 173 games and was inducted as a life member at Melbourne but fell on hard times when a recurrent knee injury took its toll and forced him into retirement in 2002.
Crippled by debt, Schwarz was forced to acknowledge his gambling addiction and worked tirelessly to pay off debts and build a brighter future for his family.
Schwarz has since become a responsible gambling ambassador for Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group and released a tell-all book, All Bets Are Off, in 2010.
Central Gippsland Cricket Association secretary Sarah Prime said Schwarz’s visit was a huge coup for the Latrobe Valley and believed his message would resonate with people from all walks of life.
“It’s about raising awareness of how [gambling] can get out of hand and nobody is immune to falling victim,” Prime said.
“We’re just trying to get the message out there … it’s a message for older juniors as they get closer to that [betting] age, and the amount of exposure to online sports betting promotion is something we want them to be thinking about so they don’t get themselves into trouble.”
The CGCA secured funding for Schwarz’s visit from the Latrobe Community Health Service as part of an agreement which will see it deliver a number initiatives as part of a broader Love The Game program.
“[The program] is about clubs being advocates for responsible gambling, so through the evening with David Schwarz and a special Australia Day match between Moe and Morwell we’re using those as tools to raise awareness about gambling,” Prime said.
“What starts out as an enjoyable pastime can spiral and impact the rest of your life … these things get out of hand quite quickly and any tools or information we can provide to mitigate that risk is great.”
David Schwarz will speak at the Morwell Club on Saturday, January 20 from 6.30pm.
Tickets for the evening are on sale to the general public for $25 per person and include a smorgasbord dinner with drinks available at bar prices. For more information or to purchase a ticket, phone Sarah Prime on 0429 190 816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org