We’re living in a world where technology is in its prime and we’re working in an industry where it’s never been so important to protect children.
When your child joins a new sports/pastime club, there are so many forms to fill in and regular payments to set up . Not to mention the stress of getting them to training on time and cost of the kit they may need. Whether or not coaches have the right qualifications/how the club will store your child’s data probably isn’t at the front of your mind. It’s more like, ‘how am I going to fit another extra-curricular activity into this week?’, right?
At Coacha, we are committed to bringing sports clubs up to speed with how to protect their members; whilst also educating parents like you on the things to look out for and ask a potential club. After all, you are entrusting these clubs with protecting your children for many hours of their lives!
Additionally, after protecting your children, the most important thing to bear in mind when joining a new club is whether they’re going to learn good skills and have fun! So, if you’re not sure what to look out for, here are the 5 things every club should be doing to protect their members:
1. All coaches should be DBS checked
Any coach/volunteer who has ‘regulated contact’ with children will require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check. This is to help clubs make safe staffing choices by viewing someone’s criminal history.
The level of the check is decided by the club, but you can see an example of the process behind the decision here.
“Murray at Gracie Barra, Gloucester, ensures that all of his coaches have been DBS checked before they go through their ICP training qualification. “
2. All coaches should have child protection training
Clubs have a legal and moral responsibility to protect all children within their care. Therefore, all staff with regular contact with children/their data, should have safeguarding training. The clubs should decide what level of training each coach/volunteer receives based on their responsibilities within the club.
There aren’t any formal safeguarding in sport qualifications, but there is training available to help keep children/vulnerable adults safe.
If associated with a National Governing Body (NGB), the club should be following the NGB’s safeguarding policy. This is to make sure each member of staff is fully trained to the NGB’s standards, so their members are fully protected.
Clubs should also explain to you what an appropriate level of interaction is with your child. For instance, the level of contact a Judo coach has with your child may be very different to that of a Soccer coach. They should be clear and precise with their introduction to the sport.
“Co-Founder Chris, attends safeguarding training every 3 years for his club. He also makes a regular effort to stay informed of any updates to ensure his knowledge is up to date. “
3. All coaches should have undergone some type of coaching training
In order to become a coach, the person must have a qualification that their National Governing Body recognizes. Or simply the correct qualification, knowledge and skills .
This is where it becomes important to do your own research. When your child is interested in learning a new sport, you want to ensure they’re attending a club where the coaches are fully qualified to train in their specific area. A good research process to follow is:
• Are the coaches qualified?
You should feel free to enquire about a coach’s qualifications when your child joins a new club.
After all, you want to make sure they’re teaching your child good practice.
• Is the club affiliated with an NGB? If not, are they associated with an equivalent organisation?
Professional organisations such as NGBs require clubs to uphold their standards in order to stay registered with them. They also will have had to apply for membership. So, you can be confident they’re a legitimate club.
• Can you view the coach’s sporting history?
Any club you join should want to boast the sporting history of its coaches. Any club which is worth attending will have coaches who have a great deal of coaching history or if they’re new to coaching, they should certainly have sporting history of playing/competing themselves.
• How long has the club been in existence?
Of course, there may be instances where a new club has been set up, or a club is not a part of an organisation but runs by their own high standards. However, if the club is fairly new and you’re struggling to answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it may be best to do a bit more research.
• Does the coach have insurance?
In order to obtain insurance, coaches have to prove they're capable in a certain capacity. So, this is a good thing to check too.
For whatever reason, clubs may be missing some of the above points and may be able to genuinely justify it. However, if you can’t find history of the club anywhere, they aren’t affiliated with an organisation, they don’t have a coaching qualification and there is no mention of training history, this certainly raises red flags.
“Sarah at GCA always ensures that her coaching team are qualified to a minimum of Level 2. This is to ensure a high standard of training and professionalism. “
4. Your children’s information should be kept safe
The club should keep all of your child’s data in a safe place. This is so it can’t be accessed by anyone other than those who need to, such as coaches/volunteers.
Under GDPR, organisations should now store their data digitally. This is why clubs use systems like Coacha, which allows the safe and secure storage of member information, plus additional features such as payment collection, registers, child protection features and a Member Portal to name a few. These systems are more efficient and secure than spreadsheets.
You should be able to request copies of the data the club hold on your child and be freely able to edit or delete any information that you wish. Systems like Coacha allow members/parents to log in, view, edit and download their data under GDPR. This means clubs don’t have to manually handle your data requests, because you can download your child’s data instantly.
“Paul @ West Bromwich Albion Development Centre uses Coacha to manage his membership. He loves Coacha because it ensures his coaches have instant access to emergency information and registers. Plus, it helps to safeguard his athletes and ensure their data is safe and secure. “
5. Added brownie points for NGB membership (or equivalent)
NGBs are organisations that oversee their specific sport. There are lots of benefits to being affiliated with an official (or unofficial) NGB such as insurance, extra support, over-arching guidance/policies/procedures, professionalism and more. Clubs who are part of an NGB have to work hard to uphold the NGB’s reputation and maintain their high standards.
Whilst it’s definitely a positive if a club is affiliated with an NGB, this is not to say that it’s bad if they’re not. In some sports (like Cheer), there is no official NGB to be affiliated with. But there are organisations that provide similar services. Additionally, if a club is not affiliated with an NGB, don’t assume that they don’t have policies/all the things that NGBs can provide. It’s good to assess each club on an individual basis.
Sports club admin doesn’t have to be hard. And protecting your child’s data doesn’t have to be a worry.
Spread the word: If you’d like more information on how your child’s club handles their data, speak with the club owner. Also, if you recommend Coacha to your children’s clubs/schools/academies and they choose to subscribe, we’ll give both you and them a £10 gift voucher to say thanks! You can send them this link to get things started.
In summary, we cannot express the importance of insuring vigilance when your child is joining a new sports/pastime club enough. It is crucial to make sure your child can be fully involved in their new activity, learning new skills (from people who are qualified to teach them), but most importantly; enjoying themselves. Meanwhile, you’re confident that your little people are in good hands!
All sports clubs we work with are utterly professional in everything they do, and we are continuously in awe of the work they do with young people. However, it’s important do research and to be wary when joining a new club, to make sure your child can fully immerse themselves in what will hopefully be their new passion.