Club Children’s Officers should be child centred in focus and have as the primary aim the establishment of a child centred ethos within the club. S/he is the link between the children and the adults in the club. S/he also takes responsibility for monitoring and reporting to the Club Management Committee on how club policy impacts on young people and Sports Leaders
Every club/organisation should designate a person to be responsible for dealing with any concerns about the protection of children. The Designated Liaison Person is responsible for reporting allegations or suspicions of child abuse to TULSA Child and Family Agency or Social Services (NI) and/or An Garda Siochán / PSNI. It is recommended that this person is a senior club person. However, if there is difficulty identifying a separate individual to take this role, the Club Children’s Officer can be appointed as Designated Liaison Person once the club/organisation is clear about the responsibilities of each role. The organisation’s child protection policy and procedures should include the name and contact details of the Designated Liaison Person and the responsibilities attached to the role.
The Irish Sports Council and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland published a joint Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in 2000. This major joint publication recognised the commitment of both Councils to ensure that young people are safeguarded in their participation in sport in the island of Ireland.
The Code has been adopted and implemented by governing bodies of sports, clubs, local sports partnerships and community/voluntary groups on an ongoing basis since 2000. It has been encouraging to see the common sense approach to the adoption of the code at grass roots level, which has resulted in protection for young people and leaders.
If young people are to stay involved in sport throughout their adult life, they need to be equipped with the fundamentals to remain involved with sport and physical activity. Equally we need to ensure that their early experiences are positive and enjoyable, irrespective of their ability, gender, social class, race, etc.
It is encouraging to see adults, both volunteers and professionals, contribute to these positive experiences by acting as role models in all dealings with young people. In particular the work of Children’s Officers at club and national level is instrumental in implementing the Code. We need to build on this valuable work to ensure that all young people see sport and physical activity as an important and valuable aspect of their lives that they will sustain throughout their adulthood.
The review of the Code in 2005 ensures that the policies and procedures that we implement at all levels in sport are up-to-date and in line with relevant documents, current best practice and legislation throughout the island of Ireland.