The FA’s safeguarding framework has now been extended to support adult open-age disability football, providing policy, procedures, regulations and guidance.
While it’s important to recognise that adults may be at risk anywhere in the game, there are guidance documents and information with a specific focus on disability provision where there may be additional vulnerability. The guidance covers various aspects of safeguarding adults in open-age disability football, such as the appointment of a Club Welfare Officer (Adult Disability Teams) and the adoption of a templated policy. They also signpost access to free online learning. There are also some easy-read documents written by and for people with learning disabilities.
All of this information is part of providing a robust safeguarding framework around football, which is a fundamental aspect of The FA and County FA’s such as Guernsey FA.
Collectively we have an ongoing duty to ensure the game is a safe, positive and enjoyable experience for the millions of children, young people and adults who regularly play, watch, coach, referee and volunteer.
The united approach to safeguard across the game is driven by a clear three-part strategy:
- Implementing preventative safeguarding measures (such as safer recruitment) to create enjoyable, safe and inclusive football environments;
- Making the reporting of concerns as easy as possible;
- Ensuring safeguarding, child protection and adult at risk concerns are investigated swiftly and thoroughly in conjunction with statutory agencies – and with demonstrable outcomes.
Safeguarding adults is everyone’s responsibility and getting this right through best practice will ensure safe access for everyone. When we talk about ‘best practice’ we refer to those actions that reduce the risk of poor practice and abuse by creating an inclusive, safe, and positive environment. This includes:
- making use of The FA’s Respect programme
- recognising and promoting adults’ rights
- appropriate support
- a place where everyone is encouraged to make their own decisions and choices.
Best practice includes ensuring coaches and others in positions of power understand their responsibilities and respect clear boundaries in relationships. Every disability provision is unique. Therefore, exactly what clubs implement will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Safeguards already in place
- Abilities and vulnerabilities of participants
- Level and format of football
- Whether under 18s are involved
- Location and environment in which training, playing and socialising takes place
- Expectations of partner or other organisations (for example those clubs linked to charities or centres with pre-existing strong safeguards)
More information about best practice can be found in the document below.
In addition, the FA has developed a free online training course – Safeguarding Adults – because people from all backgrounds should be able to enjoy taking part in football, and everyone should be treated with respect and fairness. This course brings to life The FA’s ‘Safeguarding Adults’ policy and describes how it can be implemented in adult open-age disability football. It’s for anyone who works in or volunteers in adult open-age disability football. That includes coaches, managers, Welfare Officers as well as club officials. Players, carers/personal assistants and parents are also welcome to complete the course so they are familiar with football’s safeguarding strategies. Information about how to access the course can be found in the document below.
For more information about safeguarding adults in disability football, please follow this link; https://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/safeguarding/section-10-safeguarding-adults