Safeguarding children at major sporting competitions
This year, the East Africa Cup gathered around 1200 youth in one place - Moshi, Tanzania. They had travelled from across eastern Africa to attend the event. For many it was their first time to travel to a new country and for others this was the first time outside of their communities.
All about winning
The desire to win at the East Africa Cup is enormous despite the only prize being honour and pride.
This desire from young athletes to compete and win can lead to bullying of peers, violence to ensure a place on the team, physical exertion and overtraining; all situations that can negatively impact a youth’s physical, social or emotional development.
The pressure that young people can put on themselves to perform can have long-lasting negative impacts. A report commissioned by the NSPCC on the experiences of children participating in organised sport found that self harm is one of the most prevalent negative impacts coming from youth participation in sport.
Power, influence and authority
Coaches, officials and others in positions of power can abuse and exploit their authority over young athletes. Media often reports this as sexual abuse, but physical and emotional harm are also prevalent.
Physical abuse can take the form of caning, beating and hitting, or even the overtraining of a young athlete; making them run a few extra laps as punishment or doing a drill until they get it right.
The emotional impact of never being picked for the team, or feeling as though you are not good enough because you can't shoot like the coaches’ favourite can have long lasting implications.
Coaches, organisers and field managers are in a consistent position of power over the youth that they work with. Some will abuse and exploit a young athlete's desire to compete at an international level. A short animation produced during the East Africa Cup depicts this.
Keep children safe and sport fun
Child and youth participation in sport should be fun, but this can be forgotten at events by a desire to win.
Organisers of this year’s East Africa Cup made it their challenge to ensure everyone got the message to keep children safe.
Find out how in the next article as a part of the East Africa Cup 2013 Highlighted Initiative.
- Find out more about the East Africa Cup 2013 Highlighted Initiative
- Related article: The need for safeguarding
- Related article: Using cartoons to tell stories at the East Africa Cup
- Related article: Not here just to win
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