The need for safeguarding
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Safeguarding in sport and development can be used to strengthen the positive elements of sport while protecting clubs, coaches, organisations and young people.

What is safeguarding in sport

Safeguarding is the process by which all stakeholders involved with a sport, including young people, implement the necessary measures and practices to prevent harm, violence and abuse occurring to those very same stakeholders. Young people guarded from bullying by peers, coaches guarded from physical and verbal violence by parents, clubs guarded from loss of reputation (and sponsorship), young people guarded from abusive coaches, disabled participants guarded against discrimination.

The outcome is an environment where everyone feels safe, has fun and is able to learn some of the important skills that sport is said to promote; teamwork and sportsmanship.

When safeguarding fails

Unfortunately we do not need to look far to find examples of how safeguarding has failed in sport.

There is a constant stream of extreme cases where individuals involved in sport have been subjected to harm, violence and abuse. Two cases from the United States that immediately come to mind are: Mick Rice, who regularly abused players and referees both verbally and physically; and Richard Portillo, a referee who died after being punched in the head by a young player over a yellow card.

More than sexual abuse

In a sporting context the terms harm, violence and abuse are often connected with sexual abuse. This is with good reason as sexual abuse does occur in sport. At the same time there was a conscious decision not to include it in the above examples; it is an extreme case that can be overwhelming to a point of inaction toward wider safeguarding issues.

The presence of verbal abuse, bullying, over-training and external pressure to perform are some highly visible and common examples of how embedded behaviour in sporting culture are failing to keep participants safe.

In the next article we will highlight sportanddev’s commitment to an international working group who are developing standards for the S&D sector.




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