What to look for in a sports club
Here are the key points you should check out when choosing a sports club or activity for your child.
Remember, a well-run club will welcome questions about their activities and policies. They'll know they have a responsibility to give this kind of information to anyone who leaves a child in their care.
Policies and procedures
Does the organisation have a safeguarding policy?
Sports clubs and organisations should have a safeguarding policy, with a clear procedure for dealing with concerns or risks of abuse. You should be advised how you can access the policy.
If you or your child have any worries, who can you talk to?
Every sports organisation should have a named welfare officer and promote their contact details. Well run clubs should be prepared to listen and advise you what to do if you have any concerns. They should have information about local or national services that can also offer advice and support.
Does the organisation have a written code of behaviour or code of conduct?
There should be a written code of behaviour (or conduct) showing what is required of staff, volunteers and participants. Avoid organisations that do not have a commitment to address bullying, shouting, racism, sexism or any other kind of oppressive behaviour. Any unacceptable behaviour should be challenged and dealt with in a professional manner by the sports organisation.
What boundaries exist concerning club relationships?
The club should have clear guidelines about appropriate relationships and social activities between staff, volunteers, participating young people, and parents. Find out who in the club you can speak to if you have concerns about boundaries not being observed.
What ratio of supervising adults to children is there?
Find out what the recommended supervision ratios are for your child's chosen activity. You can do this by referring to the organisation responsible for the sport or activity. It's always recommended that more than one member of staff or volunteer is present when in charge of young people.
Does the club ask for signed parent's consent and emergency details?
As part of your child's registration, are you asked to complete a consent form? This should ask for emergency contacts, key medical information (allergies, asthma, etc.) and whether there are any other issues the club needs to know about in order to help your child get the most out of their participation.
What about arrangements for away fixtures and other events?
The sports club or organisation should inform you about the event arrangements and planning, including transport to and from the venue. You should also be given information about the venue itself. If it's a long way from home, you should be given a contact number for use in emergencies.
Recruitment of staff and volunteers
Have all staff and volunteers been selected through a proper recruitment process?
This should include interviews, references and criminal records checks (e.g. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)) for staff working with children.
What training has been provided for staff and volunteers?
All staff and volunteers should have up-to-date recognised safeguarding training. Organisations often require and are able to provide sport-specific training programmes for staff and volunteers.
Is the coach qualified?
Your child's coach should have a recognised qualification to clarify they are qualified and have the technical competence in the sport or activity at the right level. Coaches need to be competent to deliver and oversee the sport or activity safely.
Health and safety
Make sure that the organisation has guidance of first aid (and ideally a qualified first aider) and that the following are available within the club:
- first aid box
- procedure for reporting and responding to injuries or accidents that occur within club time
- arrangements for providing participants with drinks and dissemination of medications (parental consent will be required for dissemination of medication)
- that the premises satisfy fire and other relevant regulations
If your child needs help with using the toilet, changing, feeding or their medication, discuss and agree how these personal care needs will be addressed.