Football clubs have a responsibility to organise football that is fun and safe. Most clubs with youth teams are run by parents for the enjoyment of their children and aspire to provide the best possible environment. It is important that parents do look into local clubs before joining to ensure the minimum standards are being met.
When choosing a club, a parent should also consider the standard of the football being played by the team their child would join. Where possible, your child will want to play regular football and have a good learning environment to develop his/her skills. No child wants to sit on the sidelines every week and equally, talented players need technical development.
A good club will:
- Have a club welfare officer and a Safeguarding Children policy
- Welcome questions about their activities
- Check that volunteers and staff are suitable to work with children
- Have a written Code of Conduct for club officials,players and spectators
- Have a qualified coach(es) with Emergency First Aid knowledge
- Have an equality policy
- Have a club complaints procedure.
All affiliated clubs must have a Safeguarding Children Policy and a Club Welfare Officer in place. But choosing a club that has achieved The FA Charter Standard Award will ensure that all of the above are in place.
The FA Charter Standard is an FA kitemark, which recognises high standards of football provision. In youth football, it means clubs have taken steps to ensure volunteers are CRB-checked, safety procedures are in place and FA-qualified coaches work with each team.
If you want to know more about how a club operates or to get involved with volunteering at a club just ask. A good club will be happy to let you now how they organise things. Most clubs are looking for new members and especially volunteers, so you can even get involved in the running of the club yourself.
You have a right and a responsibility to ensure that your children are safe at all times. The following list is courtesy of the NSPCC’s ‘A guide to help parents and carers choose children’s activities’, 2006: You should be wary of:
- Activities where parents are discouraged from staying to watch or become involved
- Behaviour or activities that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments
- Individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines
- Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific children
- Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact
- Poor communication and lack of parental involvement, leaving you feeling uneasy
- Children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason
- Invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even visit their home).