Former Liverpool and England footballer Paul Stewart has partnered with online learning provider High Speed Training to offer a free Safeguarding in Sport training course to all grassroots sports clubs in the UK.
Abuse in grassroots sports is a topic which is very much in the spotlight, following many high-profile sports players such as Paul revealing their own experiences of mistreatment in their club as a child.
Paul, who made over 40 appearances for Liverpool and scored for Tottenham in the 1991 FA Cup Final, has been open about his own experiences of abuse in sports as a child and was one of the first players to come forward in 2016 with details of historical abuse at the hands of a youth team coach.
Working with the education and safeguarding experts at High Speed Training, Paul has helped to create the only survivor-led safeguarding course aimed at sports clubs, which is being offered for free to all grassroots sporting clubs in the UK. Clubs can register to take the training, which is supported by the English Football League and Kick It Out, by visiting www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/courses/safeguarding/safeguarding-in-sport/
Backed by sporting figures such as Gary Lineker, rugby league giant Kevin Sinfield, former England and British Lions great Brian Moore, Olympic medalist Marilyn Okoro and Ryder Cup golfer Ian Poulter, the course provides sports coaches, parents and volunteers with the tools to be able to confidently identify and prevent abusive behaviours in grassroots sports, as well as understanding and implementing the recommended safeguarding procedures.
Paul Stewart said, “I am delighted that, by working with High Speed Training, I have been able to produce a survivor-led safeguarding course that I absolutely believe can make a difference.
“The support we have received has been incredible and I will be forever grateful to the people and organisations involved. It is an emotional subject, both for me and for others who have been affected. I am sure the course will have a lasting impact on those who take it.
“Everyone involved in all sports and physical activity settings with children and young people should have an awareness of these issues. We all know the benefits of playing sports for young people, and making sure that our children are safe whilst enjoying sports has to be the number one priority.
“Now the course is free to grassroots clubs, it is my hope that all adults will take the course and share what they have learned.”
Alexandra Richards, Head of Safeguarding at the English Football League, said, ‘The EFL are delighted to support this Safeguarding in Sport course and it is great to see the free initiative being made available to other organisations. We made the training available to all of our 72 member Clubs because it is unique in the fact that it is survivor-led and covers all the essentials needed for any role on the basics of safeguarding.
“The work Paul is doing with High Speed Training to ensure all children are safe at their clubs is outstanding and we will continue to support the wonderful work they are doing.”
Tajean Hutton, Grassroots Manager at Kick It Out says, “This is a great course, which we are proud to support at Kick It Out. We hear of several abuse-related cases in grassroots sport every year, which is why courses like this are important to help educate those working at clubs, so they can better support young people and participants.
“The more we can do to identify and prevent abuse at a grassroots level, the more inclusive and inviting sport will become.”
In research carried out in September 2021, High Speed Training found that a third (32%) of parents are unsure whether their child’s sports coaches have undertaken safeguarding training.
The study, which was commissioned by the leading online training provider, also revealed that concerningly one in ten (10%) parents stated that they’re unsure whether they’d be confident in identifying the signs of abuse, be that physical, sexual, or emotional, in a child, whilst more than a quarter of parents haven’t discussed safeguarding issues with their children.
Further research by the NSPCC2 also highlighted the lack of parental knowledge when it comes to safeguarding in sports, with 20% of parents whose children attend sports and leisure clubs admitting that they wouldn’t know who to speak to if they had any worries about a child’s welfare at the club.
Grassroots clubs can sign up to the course here – https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/courses/safeguarding/safeguarding-in-sport/