Here’s how we can keep children safe from predators while playing sport –

We must ensure that we have organised sports operating within a system fit to keep children safe, and look at checking on more adults in order to protect more children.

It must not be forgotten that in the time since Andy and other players suffered the abuse that our helpline has been hearing about, professional football has indeed improved its policies on protecting children. The FA has worked with the NSPCC since the 1990s, and since 2010 it has met the charity’s highest recommended standard for safeguarding. The FA is subject to our annual safeguarding review, clubs have dedicated safeguarding officers, and stringent checks are in place for all those working with children at FA-approved locations.

I know how seriously the FA and others take these matters, but none of us can be complacent. Good policies need strong and consistent application.

Now is the time to reflect upon how we can better protect our children when we entrust them to the fantastic sports clubs up and down the country working so hard to help them  to have fun, keep fit and learn the important lessons that playing sports can teach.

Parents can play a part. They must have the confidence to ask the right questions about clubs and adults who are supervising their children. Knowing who they can chat to if they have a concern, knowing what procedures the clubs have in place and satisfying themselves that the coaches have had the right checks are all vital factors in keeping children safe. These simple questions are not pushy – they are reasonable and necessary.

And we need to make sure we establish a culture where children feel able to talk to adults they trust about anything that’s bothering them at their sports club – whether that’s day-to-day worries about not being picked for the team, or more serious concerns about inappropriate behaviour. 


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