Safeguarding in Sport

Just like with any activity a child participates in, their safety when participating in sport and leisure is a priority.

Supporting your child in sport can mean lots of different things, washing kits or being their personal cheerleader or taxi driver. But it also means making sure their sport is a safe place for them to enjoy.

Choosing a sports club should be similar to choosing a nursery place or school. You’ll need to think about whether you and your child feel comfortable there and that the right things are in place for them to attend.

It is important for parents and carers to check that any sports club, leisure centre or activity has all of the necessary safeguarding measures in place.

Any good club or activity should have certain things in place to make sure they’re taking care of children during sessions, practices and any away trips and competitions.

You should feel confident asking a club about any of the points below. Remember, you have a right to know these things and any good club will be happy to let you know what they have in place.

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What Should I Ask and Be Looking Out For?
  • Seeing a safeguarding policy
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    Asking to see a club’s safeguarding policy is important. Sport and leisure organisations should have a thorough and up to date safeguarding policy and procedures in place. They will be able to provide with information on what to do if you or your child has any concerns. Behaviour code of conducts will be in place for coaches, volunteers and children

  • Club's Welfare Officer
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    All club’s should have a named Designated Welfare Officer (or similarly named) who is responsible for responding to any safeguarding concerns should they arise but also making sure all safeguarding policies and procedures a club has are being adhered to and kept up to date. You should know who the club’s Designated Welfare Officer is.

  • Are You A Sports Club?
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    NSPCC Learning has launched a new online child protection course to help with planning and delivering sports events. The course is aimed at professionals with a responsibility for the safeguarding element of events and the learning is relevant for any type of sporting event.

    For further details and to book a place please click here.

  • Recruiting coaches and volunteers
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    All club’s need to have a clear safer recruitment process in place before a coach or volunteer joins. This may include interviews, police checks (DBS), and references.

  • Promoting a child's welfare
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    Asking how a club makes sure your child is kept safe is also important. This may include taking registers at the beginning and end of an activity, having suitable ratios of staff and volunteers to children, how children are spoken and listened to, well planned transport arrangements if required, and also potentially some form of safeguarding training for those running activities

  • Guidance on communicating with children via messaging and social media
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    Open communication with children and their parents or carers should be common. A club should have in place guidelines on the use of messaging and social media and the appropriate language that all staff and volunteers should adhere to. Parents and carers should be kept well informed of club activities on a regular basis.

    Even though safeguarding children principles are the same across all sports, each sport has their own policies and procedures which cover matters such as staffing ratios and physical contact guidelines. These are specific for their clubs and coaches to help them provide a safe environment for their sport. You should seek this specific information from the National Governing Body for the sport, for example for football this is the Football Association (FA), for rugby league this the Rugby Football League (RFL).

  • Safeguarding guidance & resources for providers running out of school settings
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    The Department for Education (DfE) have published a handy safeguarding guidance leaflet, poster and document aimed at providers who run out of school settings such as After School Clubs, Sport Clubs, Community Activities and Tuition. Please click on the links below to access and download this information:

    Keeping Children Safe During Clubs, Tuition and Activities – summary leaflet for providers running out of school settings

    Safeguarding Poster for Out of School Setting Providers

    After School Clubs, Community Activities and Tuition – safeguarding guidance document for providers

    Please click on the link below to access “Buddle”, a website which has a range of documents and information for sports providers and clubs around safeguarding and safe practice. This website covers everything from the legislation and guidance that governs the policies you need to have in place, to how you determine which DBS check you need and how you can self-declare to make recruitment simpler.

    Buddle website

  • What else to look out for
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    There are some examples of behaviour which would raise concerns:

    – Activities where parents or carers are discouraged from watching the sessions or becoming involved

    – Behaviour or activities that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments

    – Individuals who take charge and operate independently to organisational guidelines

    – Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific young people

    – Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact

    – Poor communication and negative responses to questions about safeguards for your child

    – A ‘win at all costs’ attitude towards the sport or activity

    – 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)

    – Messages direct to children which does not include parents or carers

  • What should I do if I have a concern?
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    You may feel reluctant to raise a concern and worried about the impact it may have on your child and other people attending the club, but if you are concerned it is important you take action:

    – Listen to your child and ask them questions about the activities they are involved in

    – Speak to other parents and carers

    – Speak to the Welfare Officer or lead person in charge of the sessions (if appropriate to do so)

    – If you are not confident that they are the most appropriate person, speak to someone in a higher position in the club

    – If the response you receive is not appropriate, or you are still concerned, please contact one of the organisations below:

    – Yorkshire Sport Foundation –

    – Child Protection in Sport Unit –

    If you have a concerns about the immediate safety of a child, visit our Worried About a Child page for guidance on what you need to do

  • Where can I go for further information
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    The NSPCC has a dedicated Child Protection in Sports Unit (CPSU). Alongside providing guidance and support for clubs, there is a range of accessible and easy to read information for parents and carers. Visit the CPSU Information for Parents Page.

    Yorkshire Sport Foundation is West Yorkshire’s Active Partnership. They provide a range of support to club’s, including how to ensure people participate in activity safely. Visit Yorkshire Sport Foundation’s website.

    To download posters on tackling CSE in sport and for more information visit

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