Play Safe is football’s national campaign to focus attention on the vital importance of safeguarding in our national game.
This year, Play Safe Weekend will take place on Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October 2023, helping drive greater awareness of the safeguarding practice and culture in your club or organisation.
The campaign is officially supported by the NSPCC as well as the Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship. It’s also being backed by every other level of the game across England.
The key focus is the role of parents/carers in safeguarding, with the main messages being conveyed:
• Are you aware of the vital safeguarding role you play in football?
• Please take the short and free safeguarding course specifically developed for parents/carers, which can be accessed here.
• Complete the new Player Welfare Course, which is aimed at those involved with open age football.
Importantly, encouragement to take the new course has come from FASSSAG – The FA’s Survivor Support and Safeguarding Advisory Group:
“We have inputted into the course and helped frame its key messages from our collective experiences. It’s vitally important to us that every parent/carer understands the role they need to play in football. Taking this course can make a real difference – we are asking every parent/carer to commit to help ensure football is ever-safer.”
The support of FASSSAG has been welcomed by FA chief executive Mark Bullingham, himself a parent and youth football coach.
“The FASSSAG has been important in helping us create our new strategy moving forwards and we really appreciate their input into the new course. I have taken the new course and encourage all parents/carers across football to take it too.
“Ultimately, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to ensure that everyone involved in football – particularly children and young people – has a consistently safe and positive experience of our great game. Play Safe reminds everyone of that responsibility and keeps safeguarding front of mind, which is exactly where it should be.”
Michelle North, Service Head of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), said: “Children and young people have a right to enjoy all sports including football with the confidence they will be safe. Everyone involved in sport has a role to play in preventing abuse, and so we’re pleased The FA is putting a spotlight on safeguarding in football through the Play Safe weekend, which runs ahead of our own Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week 3-9 October.
“We know from our experience that parents and carers can play a crucial role – and we’d encourage anyone whose children play football to check out the new online course. If anyone who has concerns about the safety of a child they can call the NSPCC FA-designated helpline on 0808 800 5000.”
To help all parts of football support Play Safe 2023, various digital and print resources can be downloaded here.
As FA head of safeguarding Sue Ravenlaw says: “Play Safe demonstrates that across the game we are all united in the intent to keep children and young people safe in football.
“As adults it's essential that we all work together – including with parents/carers – to create positive football settings where children thrive and feel confident to speak up if they are not feeling ok.
“Backing the Play Safe campaign gives clubs and leagues a particular moment, early in the season, to talk with parents/carers, players, coaches, managers, first aiders and spectators and reinforce their safeguarding practice and what’s expected of everyone involved.
“There are robust reporting systems in place across the game and The FA has a professional Safeguarding Case Management team. The Premier League and EFL Safeguarding Standards, as well as the Safeguarding 365 Standard for County FAs, emphasise the everyday place safeguarding has in football. Premier League and EFL clubs and County FAs, are independently assessed to ensure safer working practice is continuously evolving across the country.
"Play Safe naturally aligns with and shows our support for the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign.”
So whatever your role in football – whether an active participant or an administrator – please remember safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.
If you’re a coach working with children, young people and vulnerable adults:
• Is your DBS Check up to date?
• Are you up to date with The FA’s ‘Safeguarding Children’ course and Player Welfare Course?
• Do you regularly check-in with your players and help them to feel safe to share their thoughts and speak up about any concerns?
• Are you following safe practice when communicating with under-18s for example via social media and in your coaching sessions?
If you’re a board or committee member at a club or league:
• Have you taken or refreshed The FA’s ‘Safeguarding for Committee’ members’ course?
• Does your club have a formal welcome process for new players and their parents/carers?
• Are all your club’s safeguarding policies and procedures up to date?
• Are your club welfare officers contact details widely available?
• Is safeguarding a constant item on your main meeting agendas and in your club’s day-to-day practices?
• Does your club encourage openness and ensure that members adhere to the codes of conduct and acceptable behaviours?
If you’re a parent/carer:
• Do you know your child’s club welfare officer?
• If so, do you have their telephone number in your phone, as well as that of the NSPCC?
• Are you up to speed with your child’s club’s safeguarding policies and procedures?
• Have you taken The FA’s free online ‘Safeguarding Awareness for Parents/Carers’ course?
• Do you regularly check-in with your child to see what they are enjoying/not enjoying and why?
If you’re a club or league welfare officer:
• Do you know who your County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer is?
• If so, do you have their telephone number in your phone?
• Have you reviewed your club’s or league’s safeguarding policies and procedures recently?
• Are you proactively encouraging parents/carers to do the free FA ‘Safeguarding Awareness for Parents/Carers’ course?
For more information on the safeguarding framework The FA has in place, together with numerous helpful guidance notes, please click here.
If you are worried about a child, it’s vital you report your concerns. Doing nothing is not an option. It’s also important you stay calm, and if any child is present, reassure them they are not to blame. But don’t make promises of confidentiality or outcome.
There are five ways to report a concern:
1. To your club or league designated safeguarding officer – please find out from your club who these people are
2. To your County FA designated safeguarding officer
3. By emailing The FA safeguarding team at safeguarding@TheFA.com
4. If urgent and you cannot contact your club, league or County FA designated safeguarding officer, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline for expert advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or email@example.com;
5. If it is an emergency because a child or children are at immediate risk, then call the Police or children’s social care in your area.
The Amateur FA Designated Safeguarding Officer can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8122 0147.