Essex County FA staff made 29 routine Safeguarding Visits to training sessions at randomly-selected youth clubs between October and December as part of an ongoing commitment to ensuring best practice is being followed in accordance with safeguarding policies.
Staff consulted with coaches, parents and volunteers to examine the levels of awareness of club structures, how to report concerns and maintaining standards. They also highlighted the importance of making grassroots football as safe and enjoyable as possible.
As a new initiative this season, staff also spoke directly to players, asking them for feedback. In one example, a player responded to the question “What do you most like about your coach?” by stating “He treats us all equally.” This underlined the importance of liaising directly with the people affected when considering any safeguards which exist in football.
Essex County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer Helen Hever was responsible for overseeing the schedule, alongside Rhys Elmer from the Safeguarding Department, and Helen commented: “We place the safeguarding and welfare of young people at the top of our agenda and it’s crucial we lead from the front on this subject in Essex.”
“It’s the responsibility of every adult in football, so every club is required to endorse, and adhere to, The FA’s Safeguarding Children Policy. It’s important to remember that every child or young person should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. We’re proud of the clubs in Essex who take the correct steps to make sure this happens.”
One of the visits was successfully completed at Billericay Town Girls FC, and Coach Mark Jones thinks it’s essential that clubs constantly review their policies: “Welfare and safeguarding are extremely important to us. It’s the most important thing to make sure the girls are enjoying it and feel comfortable in their surroundings so they can enjoy their football.”
“It’s important that everyone gets a fair time playing and making sure the training sessions are relevant to the players, and not overstretching them. Our Welfare Officer is always contactable by E-Mail and telephone and comes to as many games as she can come to. Best practice is paramount, to make sure everyone’s following the correct protocols and process.”
If you are concerned about a child’s welfare, please call one of the following numbers: NSPCC (0808) 800 5000; Local Safeguarding Children (Outside Office Hours): (0845) 606 1212; Childline (0800) 11 11. If you are immediately concerned, contact the Police or Social Services on (0845) 603 7634 (during office hours) or (0845) 606 1212 (outside office hours).
We asked the players…
Why Do You Play?
What Do You Like About Your Coach?
What Do You Like Your Family Doing?
What Do You Like?
What Don't You Like?