WNST trustee and leading sports campaigner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has issued her much awaited report on “Duty of Care” in sport, following a year-long review into this critical aspect of the health and well-being of all sports participants. The wide-ranging study was commissioned by the Government, following the publication of its “Sporting Futures” strategy in 2015, which set out the framework for sport in the UK over the coming years. Tanni’s report looks into the duty of care that sports organisers have towards their participants at every level – from volunteer-led grassroots activities right up to the highest echelons of elite competition.
The report comes in the wake of a stream of anecdotal evidence that the welfare of sports participants, in particular (but by no means exclusively) younger people, were being compromised in the pursuit of performance and achievement. We are all only too aware of the high profile on-going investigations into child sexual exploitation in football and accusations elsewhere of instances of players suffering from concussion not receiving adequate protection or treatment. However, we also know only too well about the abusive parent on the touchline or the coach who discriminates in favour of some participants over others. The report approaches the issue of duty of care from a number of different, but equally important, angles.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded here.
The report looks at participation in sport in its broadest sense and how those in a positon of authority, at whatever level of sport, have a responsibility of duty of care to look after those they are teaching, coaching or organising.
There are a host of recommendations to improve best practice across all sport at all levels. But to highlight some that are likely to be of greatest relevance to recipients of WNST grant funding:
- For young people, there must be a balance between their need to engage fully with their education and the development of their sporting talent.
- Teachers, coaches, parents and the young participants themselves need to be involved in discussions around their development and sports participation.
- Taking part in sport must be fun and enjoyable at all times. Young people with the potential to reach a higher or elite level of performance must be able to take part in other sports as well for their own enjoyment.
- Where an individual moves into a higher level of participation, this must be carefully managed, with expectations clearly understood on all sides.
- Criteria for selection, non-selection and de-selection must be clear and transparent.
- There must be a zero-tolerance policy of discriminatory language and behaviour from coaches, participants, parents, spectators and anyone else involved in the delivery of an activity.
- Coaches must understand the need for inclusive delivery in all its aspects and that different participants will have different needs.
- All organisations must have adopted safeguarding policies that are transparent and readily accessible to all.
- The mental well-being of participants is as important as their physical health and must be respected and understood at all times.
- All sports deliverers must understand or be aware of the existence of protocols on concussion, even where this is not a prevalent danger within a particular sport or activity.
We commend this report to you and suggest that all clubs and organisations take note of its recommendations.