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Safeguarding: Guidance for sports clubs & organisations

Sport helps children 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. Every child and young person has the right to have fun, be safe and free from harm whether training for a local team, playing for a local club or representing a sport and country at international level.

It is essential that sports clubs/organisations adopt good practice when dealing with children and ensure that their safety is paramount. 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.

Policies & Procedures

All sports clubs/organisations should have the following policies and procedures in place either separately or integrated within other documents.

Child Protection Policy - This should include:

  • When and how to report a concern, allegation, disclosure about poor practice or possible abuse
  • Who to contact should a child welfare incident or concern arise
  • Guidelines of collection by parents/carers (including what to do if a parent/carer is late when collecting a participant)
  • If necessary guidelines on physical contact

Remember it is not the responsibility of the club/organisation to decide if a child is being abused but to act on any concerns you may have.

Code of Conduct/Behaviour - These should be in place for; coaches, volunteers, spectators, parents/carers and participants. These should be promoted to and adopted by everyone concerned and this should include the appropriate usage of text and email messaging.

Health & Safety - This should include details of:

  • Risk assessment procedures
  • Participant consent forms (including details of emergency contacts, medical history, special requirements and where necessary consent for photography and/or video to  be taken)
  • How to respond to an incident or accident
  • Who is the contact/s should a health and safety concern arise.

Equality Policy/Statement - This should reflect that the rights, dignity and worth of everyone should be respected and everyone should be treated equally within the context of their sport. This should be reflected within the clubs’/organisations constitution.

Recruitment & Screening - All sports coaches, leaders, officials, volunteers and paid staff who have direct contact with children and young people must be appropriately screened to establish suitability to work with this age group, this should include:

  • The successful completion of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if appropriate.
  • A minimum of 2 references are taken and followed up
  • Qualifications are checked.

Child Protection/Welfare Officer/s - All sports clubs must have a designated child protection/welfare officer in place. There should also be a deputy officer to provide support. The child protection/welfare officer/s should be responsible for the implementation of the child protection policy, and should have a specific role description in place. The club/ organisation should also ensure that the designated officer/s has the appropriate training and has support from the club committee. Sports National Governing Bodies will provide advice and guidance to sports clubs on the role of the child protection/welfare officer.

National Governing Body (NGB) Officers - Most NGB’s have appointed a designated child protection/welfare officer. These officers can provide further advice and guidance to designated officers within sports clubs. Contact your NGB directly for details of their designated officer.

Activity Delivery Check List

Does your club/organisation have appropriate insurance cover? All sports clubs/organisations should have public liability insurance.

Do you know your participants? It is important that the relevant personnel know details of participants which may effect their involvement in sport or physical activity; this could include any medical information or special needs. Parents should be asked to complete a consent form where this information is provided along with emergency contact details.

Do your activities take place in a safe environment,  using safe equipment? All clubs/organisations should have a risk assessment procedure in place. Risk assessments should be undertaken (and documented) by named club personnel prior to the delivery of activities.

Are your activities appropriate? All activities must be appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the participant. It is recommended that all sessions are planned in advance identifying specific outcomes and appropriate activities in line with National Governing Body guidelines.

Is your club operating within the recommended player:coach ratios? The ratio of coaches to participants varies from sport to sport and should be based on:

  • The age and ability of the children involved
  • The risk involved in the activity
  • The particular needs of young people (e.g. those with disabilities in the group).

If the activity is mixed gender, male and female staff should be available. Contact your sports National Governing Body for sport specific guidance.

Changing Rooms - When children and young people use changing rooms, they should be supervised by two members of staff. Adult staff should not change or shower at the same time using the same facilities. For mixed gender activities, separate facilities should be available for boys and girls. If a child feels uncomfortable changing or showering in public, no pressure should be placed on them to do so. Instead, they should be encouraged to shower or change at home. If disabled children use your club, make sure they and their carers are involved in deciding how they should be assisted. Ensure they are able to consent to the assistance that is offered.

Away fixtures - The majority of sports clubs/organisations will attend away fixtures as part of their playing programme. The club maintains levels of duty of care for participants involved in away fixtures. All personnel involved in away fixtures should be made aware of the relevant policies and procedures. The club/organisations should also ensure that guidelines are in place in relation to communication with parents, transportation, supervision and staffing, emergency procedures and insurance.

Transportation When using transport the following should be considered:

  • Use a reputable transport company which has all the necessary insurance cover
  • Drivers are appropriately screened (see recruitment and screening section)
  • Sufficient supervision (Team Managers/Welfare Officers) are on each vehicle
  • All participants should have a seat with a seat belt and ensure that the most up to date seat belt regulations are adhered to
  • Parents/carers are issued with written information about the pick up and drop off points and times
  • All supervisory staff are issued with all relevant information of passengers i.e. name and contact number, pick up/ drop off point and time, name of parent/carer to collect participant
  • Participants are not left unsupervised (ie dropped off and a parent/carer is not present).

Qualifications & Training

Sports coaches/leaders must hold an up to date nationally recognised governing body coaching qualification/s which is appropriate to the level and sport being coached. In general an assistant coach must hold a Level 1 qualification and should coach under the supervision of a more experienced and qualified coach. A coach must hold a Level 2 qualification to coach on their own.

Sports coaches/leaders must also hold appropriate, up to date insurance cover, and if working within schools must have attended education awareness training. All club personnel (paid or voluntary) should be covered through the clubs’ insurance. Child Protection/Welfare officers, coaches and leaders must have attended recognised safeguarding and protecting children in sport training. Training should be recognised by the appropriate National Governing Body, Sports Coach UK or Local Safeguarding Children’s Board. Club child protection/welfare officers must also attend NGB training for welfare officers (Time to Listen) where available.

Role Descriptions - It is recommended that clubs/organisations have role descriptions for all volunteers and club personnel.

National Governing Body Accreditation

All sports clubs should have, or be working towards National Governing Body Accreditation, or equivalent. Club Accreditation outlines the minimum operating standards of a specific sport. Achieving accreditation demonstrates to parents/carers and schools that your club provides a safe, effective and child friendly environment. If your club does not currently have, or is not working towards accreditation contact your NGB officer. Clubs MUST be affiliated to the relevant NGB in order to work towards accreditation.

Photography & Videoing

All photography and videoing needs to comply with a club/organisations child protection policy. There is evidence that certain individuals are known to visit sporting events/activities to  take inappropriate photographs or video footage of sports people (including young and  disabled participants) in vulnerable positions. All coaches should be vigilant about this possibility. Any concerns during an event should be reported to a designated child protection/welfare officer or other responsible person.

Videoing as a coaching aid - Video can be a legitimate coaching aid for club coaches and teachers. However, if it is used make sure that children and their parents/carers consent and understand that it is part of the coaching programme. Make sure that the films are then stored safely. Consent for taking photographs or videos should be obtained from parents/ carers in writing in advance.


Be Clear

It is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that the relevant policies are in place and that they communicated effectively to everyone involved.



Be Clear

The wellbeing and safety of the performer must be considered at all times



Be Clear

All sports coaches, leaders, volunteers and paid staff should have the appropriate skills, and where necessary qualifications and experience to enable them to carry out their role effectively.



LSCB_logo.jpgThe Child Protection in Sport Unit have developed a range of free & simple tools, guides and checklists so you can put the right safeguards in place.



For more information on safeguarding in sport within Cumbria please contact Russell Maddams Lead Welfare Officer at Active Cumbria 07909 537638