Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. If you are involved in a club or league, which involves anyone under the age of 18 or thinking of setting up one, you need to ensure you have the appropriate safeguards in place.
The FA has a Safeguarding Children programme, which provides information and support to help you put this in place. Locally there is a network of Welfare Officers based at County Football Associations and a comprehensive education programme to support you.
Safeguarding covers everything from sideline abuse – swearing and bullying – to serious sexual abuse. The FA has a three-part approach to safeguarding:
- Getting the right people involved through carrying out references and CRB checks
- Creating a safe environment through codes of conduct, education and best practice
- Promoting clear systems, policies and procedures for dealing with concerns.
If you are setting up a youth team, you will need to appoint a Club Welfare Officer in order to affiliate. The role of the Club Welfare Officer is to be clear about the club’s responsibilities and communicate these to other club members, work with the league and County FA Welfare Officers, promote the Respect Programme and help club personnel in their duty of care to children.
There are over 11,000 club welfare officers already in place in England, so there are plenty of experienced volunteers to help your welfare officer. County FA Welfare Officers run regular networking sessions as well as organising workshops.
Each club Welfare Officer is required to undertake The FA’s three-hour Safeguarding Children workshop and Welfare Officer workshop. This provides a sound understanding of safeguarding in football and provides resources and tools to help make football safe at your club.
One way in which clubs can create a safer environment is to introduce the Respect Programme and ensure club officials, parents and players sign up to Codes of Conduct. These require members to sign up to positively support, deliver and play football at your club. These will allow your club to put procedures in place to take action if negative behaviour against young people occurs.
Every club or league must have policies and procedures in place to deal with a concern about the welfare of a child or young person. The welfare officer must be clear about what procedures to follow and you will need to act quickly upon any concern raised. Equally, you will need to ensure that players, parents and officials all know how to raise a concern and to whom. We strongly recommend you make use of the ‘Club Safeguarding Children Policy’ template.
The downloads will provide more detailed information on fulfilling the Welfare Officer role, policies and procedures.