I want to personally thank you and your committee for your hard work and resilience, in what has – and continues to be – an exceptionally challenging season with all the impact Covid-19 has had on our great game.
We know from speaking with many people within leagues and clubs just how challenging this has been and how much effort has been put in by so many people across the game. The impact of Covid-19 has been widespread for us all.
Some players may find they are not as physically fit as they were before lockdown. Others may have struggled mentally and emotionally by being away from the game. Sadly, there will be some who’ve seen family members become unwell, or who have experienced a bereavement, or witnessed or suffered abuse in the home.
With all the above in mind, please ask your league/club officials to report any concerns that may come to light about a child’s welfare, (including 16/17-year-olds in the open-age game) to the County FA, The FA or statutory authorities. A reminder about recognising, responding to and reporting concerns, can be found here.
On a wider level, you may have seen media coverage about the publication of Clive Sheldon QC’s independent review into non-recent child sexual abuse in football. The FA commissioned this review in December 2016, shortly after many former footballers from professional and grassroots football bravely spoke out about the appalling abuse they had suffered as children in football.
We wanted to let you know directly about the Review, which is published here and you can find The FA’s statement about the Review here. I have issued a heartfelt apology to survivors that such appalling abuse took place in football and there is a framework of support in place to assist those survivors who want to access it. Further information can be accessed here.
Please be assured that we remain committed to building on the strong safeguarding foundations we have established across the game over the past two decades. To fulfil this commitment, we need your continued help and support. Together, we must strive to create football environments in which children feel ever safer, more included and most importantly, have fun. This means everyone being vigilant and confident to tackle unacceptable or abusive behaviours.
For those working with youth teams
For those of you working with youth teams some resources that your league/club may find helpful to refer members to are:
– The free FA online Safeguarding For All training for volunteers and helpers.
– The new Safeguarding Children e-learning course available in April 2021 for coaches/managers.
Note: You can access both the above courses here.
– ‘Providing a positive welcome to your club’ which you can read here. This resource supports you to:
– Review what information you currently make available to your members, particularly parents/carers and new members; and
– Reflect on how accessible this information is.
– Contact details for your County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer, which can be found here.
For parents/carers connected to youth teams
We have three requests in relation to parents/carers connected to youth teams:
1. Please ensure they have the current contact details for your Club Welfare Officer and are clear about how to report concerns or seek help.
2. Make your Safeguarding Policy readily available.
3. Please again share the parent/carer film ‘Let’s talk about keeping children safe in football’, found here. This will help parents/carers understand their responsibilities, be aware of the safeguards clubs have in place and what collective responsibility really means.
For those working with open-age teams that have 16/17-year-old players
For those of you working with open-age teams that have 16/17-year-old players please ensure you have:
1. Adopted and adhere to Affiliated Football’s Safeguarding Children Policy which you can find here.
(You need to view section 1 and download Guidance Notes: 1.4 Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures Club Template).
2. Identified which teams have 16/17-year-old players.
3. Identified the coaches/managers (including assistant coaches/managers) and medics for these teams and list them on The FA’s Whole Game System alongside the registered team. This can be done by the club secretary, assistant secretary or if the club has a youth team by the Club Welfare Officer (Youth Teams).
4. Supported coaches/managers (including assistant coaches/managers) and medics working with 16/17-year-olds to complete an FA DBS Check which can be found here.
(You need to view section 3 and download Guidance Notes: 3.1 Safer recruitment of volunteers, 3.5 Eligibility of roles and 3.7 DBS FAQs).
5. Provided 16/17-year-old players with safeguarding information which can be found here.
(You need to view section 7: and download Guidance Notes: 7.1 Know your rights in football)
6. Encouraged club officials to complete the free FA online Safeguarding For All training for volunteers and helpers, found here.
Together, let’s continue our efforts to create child-friendly football environments and ensure the welfare of children and young people – whether they are players, coaches, referees or volunteers – is at the centre of our decision making.
Chief Executive, The FA
CC: Club Secretary
Club Welfare Officer
Youth League Welfare Officer