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Safeguarding at sports clubs – the number one priority

With many clubs having returned to sport, and others reopening their doors very soon in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown (which you can read more about in our article: Roadmap out of lockdown – what does it mean for my sports club?), safeguarding needs to be the number one priority.

There have been many changes to how clubs and coaches operate over the last year. And now that contact coaching can finally return, you need to ensure that both your members and your coaches are safe throughout the process.

As you’ll know, you have the responsibility to make sure all of the necessary policies are in place to support everyone at your club. In this article, we discuss the steps you need to take to do so.

Ensure you are up to date with safeguarding policies and procedures

Firstly, you need to ensure your safeguarding, welfare and all other relevant policies are up to date. Not only that, but they must be available for members and parents to view.

We recommend that you make your club’s welfare officers known to everyone – display their picture, name and title in your clubhouse. That way, new members know exactly who to speak with, should they ever need to. This removes an unnecessary barrier of having to ask who to talk to; something that could put people off speaking out about the support they need.

You could implement ‘young leaders’, too. If members don’t feel confident enough to speak to the welfare officers in the first instance, there’s then someone closer to their age that’s a little more approachable.

However, remember that these young leaders must receive the correct training to be able to handle this responsibility. They need to attend safeguarding courses in the same way your welfare officers do.

Making sure you have these policies and processes in place, and they’re well known to everyone at the club, demonstrates that you are providing the best support you can for your members and their parents.

But don’t forget that as a club, you need to provide your coaches with the relevant tools to implement these processes. That could mean offering additional training to ensure they feel confident they can do their job successfully.

Making sure your return to contact coaching is safe for everyone

You also need to ensure you’re looking after the welfare of your coaches and members during the return to contact coaching. In some sports like gymnastics, the governing body (British Gymnastics) has published safeguarding guidelines to ensure coaches and members are not at an increased risk of Covid infection during contact coaching.

It’s worth exploring what documentation exists from your sport’s governing body on this subject, so that you can ensure your coaches are using the correct processes and procedures to protect their own welfare, and that of their members’.

If you’re a gymnastics club, one of the most important steps to take here is to implement self-screening – this is a checklist put in place by British Gymnastics that you must complete prior to each session to ensure you’re free from the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Your coaches and members mustn’t feel forced or pushed into screening, but need to know they have the support and option to do so if they wish. By implementing self-screening, you must also provide an opt-in/opt-out option to your coaches due to GDPR restrictions. If you use LoveAdmin, you could add a field to the system to show who has opted in or out.

Check our GDPR checklist to remind yourself of your other data security obligations.

Overall, remember that it’s not only important (and essential) to be safeguarding your members, but you must be supporting and protecting your coaches’ welfare, too. They need to be provided with the relevant training and tools that enable them to offer the best possible service and care to your members.

With many clubs opening or planning to reopen very soon, now is the perfect time to be checking you’re up to date with the relevant policies and procedures. Then, be transparent at all times with your key stakeholders – highlighting exactly how you are following the guidance from your national governing body.

Ultimately, your club needs to be safe for everyone, as you welcome them back through your doors (hopefully, for good).

This article was based on a live video hosted by Alex Row, LoveGymnastics Community Ambassador. If you’re involved with a gymnastics or football club and are interested in watching similar videos in future, join our dedicated Facebook Communities:

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