Sport helps children to grow and develop, and can provide opportunities for enjoyment and achievement. Through sport children can develop valuable qualities such as leadership, confidence and self-esteem. In order to gain the full benefits of involvement in a sports activity it is essential that the organisation is operating in a safe and child friendly manner.

It is important that parents/carers have a general awareness of good practice when selecting a sports activity for a young person to attend. This will ensure that they can enjoy sport within a safe and secure environment where they feel protected and empowered to make the most suitable choices. Providing children with positive sporting experiences means that they will be more likely to achieve their true potential.

It is the responsibility of everyone involved to ensure that sports activities are safe and fun!

Questions which should be considered when selecting a sports activity

1) Are the coaches qualified?

All coaches should hold a current recognised National Governing Body qualification in the appropriate sport.

2) Do they have appropriate training?

It is recommended that coaches have attended child protection training. If coaches are working in schools it is recommended that they have attended education awareness AOTTs (Adults Other Than Teachers) training.

3) Are coaches and club personnel suitable to work with children and young people?

All coaches and club personnel who have direct contact with children and young people should have been appropriately screened. This should include:

  • The successful completion of an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
  • Appropriate references taken

4) Are the coaches insured?

Coaches should have appropriate insurance cover

5) What is the player/coach ratio?

The ratio of coaches to participants varies from sport to sport and should be based on:

  • The age of the children involved
  • The risk involved in the activity
  • Needs of young people with disabilities in the group

Contact the sports National Governing Body for sport specific guidance.

6) Who do I tell if my child takes medication?

Sports organisations/coaches need to be aware of any medication that your child is taking. You should be asked when you first attend an activity, but if not, inform the coach.

7) What happens if my child is involved in away fixtures?

The sports club/organisation should inform you about the event arrangements. You should know how your child is getting to and from the event. If the event is a long way from home you should be given a contact number for emergency use.

Policies and procedures to look out for

National Governing Body Accreditation

The sports club/organisation should have, or be working towards National Governing Body Accreditation, or equivalent, that outlines minimum operating systems of the sport. National Governing Body Accreditation ensures that the club is committed to providing a safe, effective and child friendly environment. The sports club/organisation should be working to minimum operating standards outlined by their National Governing Body.

Child Protection Policy

Clubs/organisations should have a child protection policy, which outlines procedures for dealing with possible abuse. Parents/carers should be aware of the policy and be able to view the policy on request.

Insurance

The club/organisation should have public liability insurance.

Code of conduct

Clubs/organisations should have a written code of conduct for parents/carers, coaches, club staff/volunteers and participants.

Health and Safety

The premises/venue should satisfy fire regulations. The club/organisation should issue a consent form for all new members requesting details of emergency contacts and medical history.

The club organisation should have:

  • Somebody on site who holds a first aid qualification and has access to a first aid box
  • Guidelines for dealing with injuries
  • Mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of the venue and equipment

The role of the parent/carer

Always ensure that young people that you are responsible for have the following:

  • The correct kit/equipment
  • A suitable drink when required
  • Sun cream if needed
  • Medication if required

If in doubt contact the club/organisation for specific requirements.

Always ensure that you:

  • Ask the appropriate questions to ensure that activities are safe and child friendly
  • Are aware of and act in accordance with the club/organisations code of conduct for parents/carers
  • Inform the coach of medical conditions/medication taken (remember to keep the coach up to date)
  • Inform the coach of any disabilities or special requirements that your child has
  • Ensure that the club/organisation has emergency contact details
  • Drop off and pick up your child at the correct times as advised by the club/organisation
  • Chat to your child about the activity to ensure that they are enjoying it

Always ensure that young people you are responsible for know and understand:

  • The club/organisations fair play charter and/or code of conduct for participants
  • Who they can talk to if they have any concerns

Please take the time to go through the club/organisations participants code of conduct or fair play charter with the young people you are responsible for.

What to do if you have any concerns?

Sports clubs/organisations should have a designated child protection/welfare officer. They are the first point of contact if you have any concerns. If you would like more information, or have any concerns on any of the topics covered please contact the club/organisations child protection/welfare officer or contact the sports National Governing Body Child Protection Officer. Contact Merseyside Sports Partnership for further information – see contact details below:

Useful Contacts

Child Protection in Sport Unit
www.thecpsu.org.uk
Email cpsu@nspcc.org.uk
Telephone 0116 234 7278 / 7280

NSPCC
www.nspcc.org.uk
Email help@nspcc.org.uk
Child Protection Helpline 0808 800 5000

Merseyside Sports Partnership
Child Protection Lead Officer – 0151 427 3889