Safeguarding in Sport
The Rugby World Cup is now in full swing in as is the world athletics championship, although there seems to be no one watching the athletics in Doha, rows of empty seats is concerning at such a premier event compared to the full stadiums for the Rugby in Japan !
These are both great sporting events that highlight the dedication and support that athletes need in order reach the very top of their sport and we also hope that these events will inspire the next generation of sports stars to achieve their goals.
However, many children leave their sport due to inappropriate and abusive behaviour by some of their coaches. I am not talking here about elite sport which has featured prominently in the media recently regarding allegations of bullying and abusive behaviour but sport and the grass roots level.
We should never underestimate the power that sports coaches can wield and the incredible influence that they can have over a child’s life. It has been well documented in the media about the poor culture that has existed in some sports that has put winning medals ahead of athlete welfare, this week we saw an ice skating coach in America jailed for 24 years for abusing one of his athletes, the media report highlighted the long history of many sports organisations who place “money, medals and reputation of coaches above the protection of child athletes”.
This clearly indicates a change of culture is required and for this to happen it needs to start from the very top whether this is a major national governing body (NGB) or a small club playing sport on a Saturday morning. Last week I was privileged to be able to deliver a presentation at an ACAS Conference in Nottingham, the theme of the conference was safeguarding and how companies manage allegations and disclosures in the work place, Dr Colin Harris was a key note speaker who spoke about his experiences in football and how his disclosure was managed, he explained that when the senior leadership at the club fully understood what happened to him and the impact that it had on his life as well as his motives for disclosing were not financially driven change occurred. Dr Harris firmly believes that for change to happen in safeguarding it must be a main priority for those who run and manage sports clubs. This is especially required at small clubs who may not be affiliated to an NGB, they may not have access to resources to help raise awareness of how exploitation can happen in their club. Support for these grass roots clubs can be lacking and many are run by volunteers with little or no knowledge of how children are exploited and abused through sport.
In order to assist these clubs, the NWG have developed a suite of resources that are freely available to help coaches and parents understand the subtle indicators of how exploitation happens, the resources are sport specific with key phrases from each sport being used to emphasise a point, the sports included are Football, Cricket, Tennis, Gymnastics, Swimming and Martial Arts. Access to the resources can be found by clicking on the link below;
Please do share within your networks as well as over your social media contacts as we feel that these resources can help clubs to meet their safeguarding requirements that are stipulated in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018. We would like to develop these resources further and would be delighted to hear from other sports who would be interested in having their sport featured in the suite of resources.
As always we are happy to have conversations with you about the prevention of exploitation in sport, so please do give me a call on the numbers listed below.
Kevin Murphy Safeguarding in Sport Lead