1 Lough Derg FC
Code of Practice
The guidelines in this document are based on the national guidelines as outlined in the following documents.
Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children‟s Sport, Irish Sports Council, 2000.
Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, Dept. of Health & Children 2011
Our Duty to Care, Dept. of Health & Children 2002
Football Association of Ireland Code of Ethics & Best Practice
Clubs are advised to read these sample policies and procedures carefully and it is strongly advised that clubs should get their final document passed by their legal advisors before incorporating them into their club constitution. 2
Lough Derg FC Mission Statement
The work of Lough Derg FC is based on the following principles that will guide the development of sport for young people in this club. Children and young peoples experience of soccer should be guided by what is best for the child or young person. The stages of development and the ability of the child should guide the types of activity provided within the club. Adults will need to have a basic understanding of the needs of young people, including physical, emotional and personal.
Integrity in relationships:
Adults interacting with young people in soccer should do so with integrity and respect for the child. All adult actions in soccer should be guided by what is best for the child and in the context of quality, open working relationships. Verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable within soccer.
Quality atmosphere and ethos
Soccer for young people should be conducted in a safe, positive and encouraging atmosphere. A child-centred ethos will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place. Too often unhealthy competitive demands are placed on children too early and results in excessive levels of pressure on them and as a consequence, high levels of dropout from sport.
All children should be treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of age, ability, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion. Children with disability should be involved in sports activities in an integrated way, thus allowing them to participate to their potential alongside other children.
Fair play is the guiding principle of the Irish Sports Councils Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children's Sport.
It states that “all children‟s sport should be conducted in an atmosphere of fair play”. Ireland has contributed and is committed to the European Code of Sports Ethics, which defines fair play as: “much more than playing within the rules”.
It incorporates the concepts of friendship, respect for others and always playing with the right spirit. Fair play is defined as a way of thinking, not just behaving. It incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of opportunities, excessive commercialisation and corruption.
(European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics, Council of Europe, 1993).
A balanced approach to competition can make a significant contribution to the development of young people, while at the same time providing fun, enjoyment and satisfaction. Coaches/managers should aim to put the welfare of the child first and competitive standards second. A child-centred approach will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place. 3
Lough Derg FC Child Protection & Welfare Policy Statement
Lough Derg FC is committed to ensuring that all necessary steps will be taken to protect and safeguard the welfare of children and young people who participate in soccer. This Policy document clearly demonstrates the importance placed by Lough Derg FC on the protection and safety of children and young people who participate in soccer.
All children and young people1 who participate in soccer should be able to do so in a safe and enjoyable environment. While doing so they should be protected from any form of abuse be it physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or bullying. The responsibility for protecting children lies with all adults involved in this club and in soccer in general.
1 Children are defined in Irish Law as being any person under 18 years of age.
Lough Derg FC recognises and accepts its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people by protecting them from physical, emotional or sexual harm and from neglect or bullying.
These clear policies, practices and procedures in addition to relevant training programmes will ensure that everybody in Lough Derg FC knows exactly what is expected of them in relation to protecting children and young people within soccer.
It is vital that children and young people who participate in Lough Derg FC activities are able to do so in a safe, enjoyable and quality environment.
In pursuit of this goal Lough Derg FC will:
Advise all members of Lough Derg FC (coaches, players, parents and spectators) of their responsibilities in relation to the welfare and protection of children and young people who participate in soccer.
Operate within the recommended Football Association of Ireland codes of conduct and best practice guidelines.
Appoint a Club Children‟s Officer in line with Football Association of Ireland requirements.
Provide a child protection and welfare module in staff induction and development programmes
The aims of Lough Derg FC Child Protection Policy are:
To develop a positive and pro-active position in order to best protect all children and young people who participate in soccer, in order for them to do so in a safe and enjoyable environment.
To provide appropriate guidance and advice to all club members (players, coaches, volunteers, spectators and parents) in all matters concerning child welfare and protection.
To demonstrate best practice in the area of child welfare and protection.
To promote ethics and best practice standards throughout soccer.
The key principles underpinning this Policy are that:
The welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration.
All children and young people have a right to be protected from abuse of any kind regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual identity.
All suspicions and allegations of abuse/poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. It is essential that we work in partnership with children and young people and their parents/carers. The HSE has a statutory responsibility to safeguard and protect the welfare of children and Lough Derg FC is committed to cooperating fully with them in accordance with procedures as outlined in “Children First” National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.
Lough Derg FC will cooperate fully with the Football Association of Ireland National Children‟s Officer, Gardai and HSE in any investigation of child abuse in soccer.
The Football Association of Ireland‟s regulations in regard to child welfare and protection are defined in the rulebook as:
RULE 71. THE PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN
(a) In line with legislation and Government Guidelines (The Child Care Act 1991 and the Protection for Persons Reporting Abuse Act 1998) in relation to child protection and welfare, it is mandatory that all participants, clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies shall be bound by the FAI recommended codes of conduct and best practice guidelines
(b) Any act, statement, conduct or other matter which harms a child or children, or poses or may pose a risk of harm to a child or children, shall constitute behaviour which is improper and brings the game into disrepute.
(c) Breaches shall become a disciplinary offence. Any member issued with a ban from football activity shall have their name notified to all League Secretaries for onward dissemination to all Club Secretaries. The notification shall state the name of the individual and the fact a ban has been issued. 5
(d) Any participant who is the subject of a Statutory Inquiry in relation to any child welfare concern must stand down from all football activities pending the outcome of that inquiry and any subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings.
(e) Any member convicted of an offence by the Irish Courts or Courts of any other jurisdiction involving the welfare of children shall be automatically banned from membership of the Association. For the avoidance of doubt no disciplinary or other hearing shall be necessary in order to implement this automatic ban.
RULE 95. PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN
1. All participants, clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies shall be bound by the FAI rules, codes of conduct and guidelines governing the protection and welfare of children, and breaches of such rules, codes and guidelines shall be subject to disciplinary sanction.
2. The disciplinary body may impose any sanction it deems appropriate.
3. Any act, statement, conduct or other matter which harms a child or children, or poses or may pose a risk of harm to a child or children, shall constitute behaviour which is improper and brings the game into disrepute.
4. Any participant who is the subject of a statutory inquiry in relation to any child welfare concern must stand down from all football activities pending the outcome of that inquiry and any subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings.
(Lough Derg FC through confirming this policy document has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that children and young people can participate in all soccer activities with their safety and welfare being of paramount importance.
It is essential that this document represents a process of continual improvement in the area of child protection and welfare in soccer.
It is the responsibility of all adults involved in soccer to actively promote safe and best practice standards whilst being ever vigilant and aware of their responsibilities to children and young people in their care. 6
Lough Derg FC Procedure for dealing with Child Abuse Concerns or Allegations
It is important to note that the investigation of suspected child abuse is the responsibility of the Statutory Authorities (Gardai, HSE) and should not be undertaken by Children‟s Officers or any other Club/League. All allegations of child abuse must be referred to the Statutory Authorities.
When an allegation is received it should be assessed promptly and carefully. It will be necessary to decide whether a formal report should be made to the HSE and this decision should be based on reasonable grounds for concern. In accordance with requirements of Children First all concerns with relation to suspected child abuse will be passed on to the relevant statutory authorities.
The following examples would constitute reasonable grounds for concern:
(i) a specific indication from a child that (s)he was abused;
(ii) a statement from a person who witnessed abuse;
(iii) an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse;
(iv) a symptom which may not in itself be totally consistent with abuse, but which is support by corroborative evidence of deliberate harm or negligence;
(v) consistent signs of neglect over a period of time.
Ref. Children First 2011
Therefore in practice, concerns will be passed on by the Clubs designated person to the statutory authorities if we receive:
(ii) a specific indication from a child that (s)he was abused;
(iii) a statement from a person who witnessed abuse;
or have evidence in relation to:
(iii) an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse;
(iv) a symptom which may not in itself be totally consistent with abuse, but which is support by corroborative evidence of deliberate harm or negligence;
(iv) consistent signs of neglect over a period of time.
Any allegation of abuse must in the first instance be brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Club. Should the Chairperson be unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist s/he can informally consult with the local HSE duty social worker. S/he will be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report.
Coaches/volunteers may be subjected to erroneous or malicious allegations. Therefore, any allegation of abuse should be dealt with sensitively and appropriate support should be provided for staff/volunteers including counselling where necessary.
Should Lough Derg FC become aware of an allegation of abuse of a child or children by a coach/volunteer during the execution of that coaches/volunteers duties, the Chairman will privately inform the coach/volunteer of the following:
v the fact that the allegation has been made against him/her;
v the nature of the allegation.
The coach/volunteer should be afforded an opportunity to respond. The Chairman will note the response and pass on this information when making the formal report to the HSE.
The report to the HSE should contain observations, dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information.
In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Chairperson is unable to contact a duty social worker, the Gardai shall be contacted.
Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending intervention by the Statutory Authorities
Our Chairperson, if reporting suspected or actual child abuse to the Statutory Authorities will first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine any statutory investigation.
It should be noted that should a formal notification be made, we are not accusing anyone of child abuse, rather we are passing on concerns for investigation by the appropriate statutory authorities in keeping with the principle that “the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration”.
All subsequent actions following an allegation of abuse against a coach/volunteer will be taken in consultation with the HSE and An Garda Síochána. An immediate meeting will be sought with these two agencies for this purpose. The Football Association of Ireland National Children‟s Officer is also available to provide support and advice. 8
Under Football Association of Ireland rules, any coach/volunteer/manager who is the subject of a statutory investigation into alleged child abuse, is required to stand down from all soccer activities until the investigation is completed. Therefore the FAI National Children‟s Officer must be informed immediately of any formal notification to the Statutory Authorities.
When a person is asked to stand down it should be made clear that it is only a precautionary measure in keeping with standard procedures/guidelines and will not prejudice any later disciplinary proceedings.
The coach/volunteer concerned should be advised that the procedures being undertaken are in accordance with statutory requirements. He or she should be treated with respect and fairness, and also be assured that all information will be dealt with in a sensitive and confidential manner.
The Club will carefully consider the outcome of the statutory investigation and will then assess if there are any outstanding disciplinary issues in relation to their internal rules or infringements of the Football Association of Ireland best practice guidelines. It must be remembered that the fact that the alleged abuser has not been prosecuted or been found guilty does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.
Internal Club disciplinary proceedings can only be initiated after the Statutory Authorities have completed theirs.
Lough Derg FC
2.4 Club Disciplinary, Complaints and Appeals Procedure (Covers all matters other than suspected child abuse which has to be referred to the Statutory Authorities See 10.6)
While many concerns can be dealt with in an informal manner to the satisfaction of all concerned, it is advisable that detailed records are maintained in respect of all complaints and that all parties are advised of the formal complaints and appeals procedure. All reasonable efforts to resolve matters should be exhausted at local level before accessing the appeals procedure.
Any person who has a complaint or concern should bring it to the attention of the secretary under the relevant rules of the body concerned.
The complaint or concern should be in writing and should outline all relevant details and other parties involved in line with procedure.
The complaint or concern should then be brought to the attention of the appropriate person in line with club rules who will convene the disciplinary committee/panel (best practice would advise that this committee/panel would consist of three members) unless the complaint or concern relates to a child abuse matter or criminal offence that meets criteria for formal reporting to the statutory authorities.
Where there are potential contentious issues, due consideration should be given to ensure the independence of the disciplinary committee/panel and therefore, it is advisable that members of the disciplinary committee/panel should not be Offices/Directors of the body concerned as lack of independence is often cited as a ground for appeal.
(The Chairperson of the Club should not sit on the Disciplinary Committee)
The disciplinary committee/panel should furnish any participant with details of the complaint being made against them and afford them the opportunity of providing a response either verbally or in writing. In the event of a complaint against a child, the parents/guardians should be informed and advised of the process.
The disciplinary committee/panel should then hear the case of all parties involved and decide if a rule or regulation has been infringed.
The disciplinary committee/panel should then inform in writing those involved of their decision and any sanctions if any that are to be imposed. This notification should be in writing, setting out the reasons for the sanction. (Written notification should be forwarded to parents if the proceedings involve a participant under eighteen years of age) 10
Any party unhappy with the findings of the disciplinary committee/panel can appeal the decision in writing to their respective superior body as per rules. Clubs, leagues, divisional associations and other football bodies should review their rules to ensure they contain a provision that facilitates an appeals procedure in this respect.
The appeal body should then rehear the case and all evidence, should be considered. The appeals body should have the power to uphold or reject the appeal or to vary, alter or set aside any sanction imposed by the disciplinary committee/panel.
Written confidential records in relation to disciplinary proceedings should be safely and confidentially kept on file (procedures should clearly define the possession of such records in the event of election of new officers)
Anonymous complaints can be difficult to deal with, however they cannot be ignored. All complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour/poor practice should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Club. In all cases the safety and welfare of the child/children is paramount.
All complaints should be checked out and handled in a confidential manner. It is important to record all such complaints and actions taken. Specific advice on dealing with anonymous complaints can be got from your local HSE duty social worker or alternatively the Football Association of Ireland National Children‟s Officer.
Rumours should not be allowed hang in the air. Any rumour/s relating to inappropriate behaviour/s circulating in the club should be brought to the attention to the Chairperson and checked out promptly. All ensuing information should be handled confidentially and with sensitivity.
Confidentiality is about managing information in a respectful, professional and purposeful manner. It is important that the rights of both the child and the person about whom the complaint has been made are protected. Therefore, appropriate confidentiality will be maintained in respect of all issues and people involved in concerns about the welfare of a child or bad practice within the club.
The following points will be borne in mind:
A guarantee of confidentiality or undertakings regarding secrecy cannot be given, as the welfare of the child will supersede all other considerations
All information should be treated in a careful and sensitive manner and should only be discussed with those who need to know
Information will be conveyed to the parents/guardians of a child about whom there are concerns in a sensitive way. Giving information to others on a “need to know” basis for the protection of a child is not a breach of confidentiality
Lough Derg FC Recruitment Policy Ref Our Duty to Care
Safe practice starts with safe recruitment procedures and involves:
● Always applying thorough selection procedures, no matter who the applicant happens to be
● Judging the suitability of applicants in relation to a broad range of matters
● Taking all reasonable steps to eliminate people who are not suitable for working with children
● Providing training. Most people who apply to work with community and voluntary organisations on either a voluntary or paid basis are interested, well motivated and suitable for the various tasks involved. However, it is very important that organisations take all reasonable steps to ensure that only suitable people are recruited. Unfortunately, people with a tendency to abuse children can be attracted to the type of work that gives them the opportunity to be with children, and this always has to be borne in mind when recruiting new workers.
This section outlines an approach to safe recruitment and selection practices. The actual procedures may vary according to the requirements of different organisations or groups but the following key processes should be included:
(i) Clear definition of the role of employees or volunteers: This means clarifying and agreeing expectations regarding the role of a new worker, and involves identifying the minimum level of personal qualities and skills required to fill the post.
(ii) Application Form: An application form, with a clear job description and information about the organisation should be supplied. The form should be designed, as far as possible, to collect all relevant information about the applicant, including past experience of working with children.
(iii) Declaration: All applicants should be required to sign a declaration stating that there is no reason why they would be unsuitable to work with young people, and declaring any past criminal convictions or cases pending against them. The organisation must have a clear policy regarding the type of factors that would exclude applicants.
(iv) Interview: All applicants should be interviewed by a panel comprising of at least two representatives of the organisation. Interviewers should explore the information stated on the application form and assess the applicant‟s suitability for the post. The information supplied by the applicant and any other information supplied on their behalf should only be seen by persons directly involved in the recruitment procedure.
(v) References: An applicant should be expected to supply the names of two referees (not family members) who will testify as to their character, their suitability to the role of employee/volunteer, or any other issues which may affect their ability to perform the tasks required of them. At least one referee should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant‟s previous work or contact with children. An acceptable reference will indicate that the person is known to the referee and is considered suitable by them to work with young people. All references should be received in writing and later 12
confirmed by telephone, letter or personal visit. Any additional information should be attached to the application form. If the applicant has had a previous involvement in sport, one of these names must be that of an administrator/leader of your last club/place of involvement.
(vi) Identification: The organisation should ensure that the identity of the applicant is confirmed against some documentation (ID card, driving licence or passport) which gives his or her full name, address together with a signature or photograph. This should be compared with the written application.
Although a very thorough selection procedure is one of the most sensible and effective ways of assessing a person‟s suitability to work with children and may itself act as a deterrent to potential abusers, it is often felt as an unnecessary burden…
“But sure he only comes in one morning a week”
“I couldn‟t ask them all those questions when they‟re not even getting paid”
“She wouldn‟t give up so much of her time if she didn‟t mean well”
“All our volunteers are from the area”
“It‟s so hard to get volunteers these days – I don‟t want to put people off”
Workers are not less likely to abuse children because they are part-time or because they are not getting paid or because they have been giving their services for years, or even because they are a friend of a friend. You must apply the same procedure consistently with paid and unpaid staff, part time and full-time workers alike. Although being very thorough about assessment can seem like an unnecessary burden, the more it becomes routine throughout all organisations working with children, the less intimidating it will be to genuine and well-motivated applicants. At the same time, it may act as a deterrent to potential abusers, as well as assisting in the choice of appropriate staff and volunteers.
Induction and training
When an applicant has been accepted, the following processes should apply:
(i) Induction: If, following the application and interview process the applicant is accepted, they should then be required to undertake an induction course. Induction should be a planned programme that enables workers to get to know the organisation, their colleagues, their job and other organisations doing the same type of work. It should also cover expectations, conditions and procedures for dealing with discipline, grievances and allegations, and the organisation‟s child protection policy.
(ii) Trial period: Appointment should be conditional on the successful completion of a trial period, the length of which should be decided at the outset. It gives an opportunity to assess the suitability of a new worker to work with children and his or her commitment to the organisation‟s policies on safe practices.
(iii) Records: details of selection and induction should be recorded, along with notes on any matters arising during any part of the process.
(iv) Additional training: To maintain quality standards and good practice, training should be provided on an ongoing basis for all workers Your Local Sports Partnerships provide training in the form of the Child Welfare in Sport Basic Awareness Workshop and subsequent Children‟s Officer training. 13
Consider how your organisation could:
● Adopt a clear and consistent procedure for taking on new staff and volunteers
● Plan a programme for the induction of new staff and provision of ongoing training
Lough Derg FC will take all reasonable steps to ensure that coaches, managers and volunteers are suitable to work with children and young people.
All coaches, managers and volunteers are required to complete an application/self declaration form, giving the names of two referees who will then be contacted. Written references will then be verified and kept on file. Applicants are also required to produce valid photo ID.
(If you have had a previous involvement in sport, one of these names must be that of an administrator/leader of your last club/place of involvement)
All coaches/volunteers subject to Garda vetting (when available)
All applicants to be interviewed by Club Recruitment Committee
Following interview all appointments are subject to approval and ratification by the committee of Lough Derg FC
All coaches, managers and volunteers will be subject to a sign up procedure in which they undertake to abide by Lough Derg FC rules and FAI codes of conduct and good practice. (Appropriate confidentiality will be maintained in regard to all application and reference forms)
Once recruited, Lough Derg FC will make all efforts to support and manage coaches, managers and volunteers ensuring that no person is expected to work alone.
Induction: If, following the application and interview process the applicant is accepted, they are required to undertake Lough Derg FC Induction Course. Induction will be a planned programme that covers:
Familiarisation with the Clubs policies procedures and protocols procedures for dealing with discipline, grievances and allegations, and the organisation‟s child protection policy.
Coaches to get to know the organisation, their colleagues, their role
Expectations of the Club, Coaches/Children‟s Code of Conduct
Rules of the Club, coaching philosophy, Team Selection Criteria, Record Keeping Guidelines,
Safety procedures, safe use of equipment and facilities
Lough Derg FC
Private and Confidential
The above has applied for a post within the (insert club/organisation name here) and has supplied your name as a referee. As an organisation committed to the safety/protection and happiness of children, we are anxious to know if you are satisfied that this person is suitable to work with children in a sporting capacity.
How long have you known this person?__________________________________
In what capacity?
Are you satisfied that the above named person is suitable to work with children in a sporting capacity? Yes