Safeguarding in Sports Clubs

The benefits of sport and physical activity

There are many benefits for children and young people taking part in sport and physical activity: 

  • Physical Health: Regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, and enhances overall fitness.
  • Emotional Well-being: Sports teach teamwork, perseverance, and resilience. 
  • Life Skills: Organised sports help children control their emotions, channel negativity positively, and build self-esteem.
  • Social Connections: Through sports, children make friends and connect with others, fostering social skills.
  • It can also open up career opportunities.

Encourage your child to explore different sports and stay active.

Safeguarding your child in sports

It’s important for parents/ carers to check that any sports club or activity that your child attends has your child’s safety as its priority. Even if the club seems professional, there are questions that you should ask to make sure that they have all the necessary safeguarding measures in place.

1. Can I see your safeguarding policy?

A good organisation will have robust and up-to-date policies and procedures in place. They will be able to provide you with information on what to do if your child has any concerns. Established codes of conducts will be in place for coaches, volunteers and young people. 

2. Who is your Welfare Officer?

The club will have a designated Welfare Officer, who may also be present to answer any questions you may have. This is the person responsible for putting into place procedures and dealing with any concerns.

3. Do you follow Safer Recruitment procedures?

Every organisation providing sporting activities to young people must ensure they have the correct recruitment processes in place which includes interviews, references and have undertaken the appropriate police checks for their volunteers and staff.

4. How do you promote the welfare of children and young people?

Enquire about how the organisation promotes the welfare of children and young people. This will include: first aid provision; taking registers at beginning and end of sessions; ratios of staff/volunteers to young people; appropriate transport arrangements if required; and how they listen and respond to the views of young people.

5. Do you have guidance on texting/ social media etc?

A good club will have open communication with children & young people and their parents or carers. They should have in place guidelines on the use of text messaging and social media and the appropriate language that all their staff and volunteers should adhere to. Parents and carers should be kept well informed of club activities.

Even though safeguarding principles are the same across all sports; each sport has their own policies and procedures which cover matters such as staffing ratios and physical contact guidelines. These are specific for their clubs and coaches to help them provide a safe environment for their sport. You should seek this specific information from the governing body.

What else should you look out for?

  • Activities where parents or carers are discouraged from watching the sessions or becoming involved.
  • Behaviour or activities that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments.
  • Individuals who take charge and operate independently to organisational guidelines.
  • Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific young people.
  • Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
  • Poor communication and negative responses to questions about safeguards for your child.
  • A ‘win at all costs’ attitude towards the sport or activity.
  • Children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason.
  • Invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even visit their home).
  • Text messages or internet communication direct to young people and does not include parents or carers.

Don’t be afraid to question

A good and professional organisation will already have procedures in place and will welcome the chance to demonstrate that they are providing a safe environment for your child.

What should you do if you are concerned?

You may feel reluctant to raise a concern and worried about the impact it may have on your child and other people attending the club, but if you are concerned you must take action:

  • Listen to your child and ask them questions about the activities they are involved in.
  • Speak to other parents and carers.
  • Speak to the Welfare Officer or lead person in charge of the sessions.
  • If you are not confident that they are the most appropriate person, speak to someone in a higher position in the organisation.
  • If the response you receive is not appropriate, or you are still concerned, please contact one of the organisations below.

West Yorkshire Sport 0330 20 20 280

Child Protection in Sport Unit

If you have any serious concerns about the safety of a child, do not delay and call the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline 0808 800 5000

If you are concerned about a child in Leeds call 0113 222 4403 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) 0113 2409536 (out of hours emergency number)

All the above information is also contained in the Safeguarding in Sports for parents and carers leaflet. To request a copy please email the LSCP Business Unit

Further information

There are lots of resources available for parents and carers who want to ensure they are keeping their child safe in sport:

  • The Child Protection in Sport Unit have lots of resources for parents, including a free online course.
  • Sport England also have a guidance section for parents.
  • The Safe to Play campaign has some resources to raise awareness of exploitation within sport that are aimed at parents and carers. 
  • High Speed Training offer a free Safeguarding in Sport online course aimed at any adult involved with a sports club, including parents. 

 You can also find lots of information on safeguarding, wellbeing and welfare on the Yorkshire Sport Foundation website: Safeguarding and welfare - Yorkshire Sport Foundation or contact their Senior Sport Welfare Officer, Nicola Holmes, at for further information.

Watch the 'Keeping your child safe in sport' webinar delivered by Yorkshire Sport Foundation for further information.

My magic sports kit

This video shows several children involved in different sports describing how the behaviour of parents/spectators deteriorates when they wear their ‘magic sports kit’ – i.e. when they compete. They talk about a range of bad adult behaviours and how these negatively impact on them. They then describe and promote positive behaviour.

Courtesy of the Child Protection in Sport Unit

Martial arts clubs

The Safeguarding Code in Martial Arts has been created to give parents and carers peace of mind when searching for martial arts clubs suitable for children or adults in their care.

Any martial arts club/organisation or individual in England who has achieved the Safeguarding Code in Martial Arts, has successfully demonstrated that they have a good working knowledge of quality safeguarding practices will be able to reassure you that they have the necessary policies and procedures in place.

Quick leave