17 December 2019

Thirteen characteristics of a safeguarding in sport culture

A safeguarding in sport culture refers to the embodiment of safeguarding in sports practices, processes, procedures, policies, mindsets, beliefs, values, and norms that are shared and transferred by sports organisations, its employees and stakeholders in their internal and external environment. This article explores safeguarding in sport culture dynamics, and examines how they affect sports organisations in the delivery of safeguarding in sport programmes.

1. The safeguarding in sport culture influences the safeguarding in sport philosophy of a sport organisation

The safeguarding in sport culture of sport organisations is the invisible attitude and organisational mind-set that influences the behaviour and interaction of sport organisation employees internally and externally with sport participants and sport stakeholders. The safeguarding in sport philosophy shapes the core safeguarding in sport values, beliefs, norms and expectations.

Absence of clearly defined safeguarding philosophies results in neglect of this very important aspect of protecting vulnerable sport participants, and this often affects the practices, processes and procedures which have negative regulatory consequences. The safeguarding in sport culture creates an environment where any safeguarding cases, concerns and issues raised are dealt with in a precise, prompt, professional, proportional, procedural, and private way that meets the best safeguarding in sport practices and standards. Safeguarding incidents can have destructive consequences for individuals, and have negative regulatory and reputational implications.

2. The safeguarding in sport culture determines safeguarding structure, systems and strategies that sport organisations adopt

Safeguarding in sport culture determines the structure, systems, and strategies that sports organisations adopt in combatting violations of safeguarding within their organisation. In the United Kingdom, Sport England developed an amazing safeguarding in sport culture which has permeated within their sport governing bodies, their structures and strategies. In response to the cases of abuse in football , they established the Child Protection in Sport Unit in 2001 in partnership with the NSPCC, Sport England and Sport Wales.

The partnership was specifically developed to help eliminate the abuse of children in sport. This has also seen several national sports federations restructuring their bodies to accommodate the critical area of safeguarding in sport. Safeguarding in sport culture was triggered by understanding the gravity of violations that occurred in football and how if those were not dealt with properly, they would negatively affect the sporting system. The model of the safeguarding culture implemented by Sport England provides a good example from which many nations in developed and developing regions can draw important lessons.

3. The safeguarding in sport culture is modelled by leaders of sport organisations 

The safeguarding views, and philosophy of leaders in sport organisations play a critical role in building the safeguarding in sport culture. Safeguarding initiatives often die a natural death when leaders do not buy into them, or see them as a critical component of the overall success of an organisation.

Leaders of sport organisations mould behaviours and attitudes within sport organisations, leaders nurture a strong safeguarding culture that addresses issues. The heart of safeguarding in sport is the protection of vulnerable sport participants from abuse and neglect, in order to ensure that participants freely enjoy the benefits of sport and physical activity. This entails prioritizing the emotional, mental, physical and relational well-being at the centre of decision-making, whilst also truthfully taking into consideration the voice of that vulnerable person.

When the leaders demonstrate commitment to establishing a safeguarding in sport culture through an action-oriented approach, they set an example of the safeguarding in sport values, norms and mind-sets which are vital for employees to practice. Strategic organisations in the sports ecosystem – such the IOC, FIFA, NFL, EPL, and NBA – are leaders and their voice on safeguarding in sport issues helps in building a safeguarding culture and triggers other sports organisations to align their systems to the safeguarding in sport agenda. When strategic and leading global sports organisations embrace the safeguarding in sport culture, it has a ripple effect on sport organisations globally, especially those which fall under their jurisdiction.

4. The safeguarding in sport culture evolves with shifts in the sporting industry

Safeguarding in sport is a constantly evolving field that is changing with the dynamics of the sports industry. A safeguarding in sport culture is sensitive to the changes and shifts and adapts in order to provide relevant remedies to the safeguarding challenges that emerge with technological and digital developments in sport.

Technological and digital changes in sport have seen the rise of cyber bullying, which is a major issue of concern within the safeguarding in sport movement. Constant updating and upgrading safeguarding in sports knowledge is important in order to be on track with the continuous transformation of the safeguarding in sport landscape dynamics whilst ensuring that critical safeguarding in sport practices are embedded in daily sport operations and engraved in the mind and heart of sport employees. As the safeguarding in sport movement continues to evolve with changes in sport, a safeguarding in sport culture needs employees to adapt to such changes.

5. The safeguarding in sport culture is reinforced by constant communication of safeguarding values, norms, beliefs and – more importantly – practices

Communication is the cornerstone of all great safeguarding in sport cultures. Sport organisations have the obligation to constantly and consistently communicate safeguarding values, norms, beliefs, practices, processes, procedures and policies to internal and external sport stakeholders. Safeguarding in sport communication helps to equip and empower  sport organisation employees on how to safeguard the vulnerable in sport.

Often, sport organisations craft good policies and procedures, but these never become effective in addressing issues because they are not constantly communicated. Sport organisations should utilise platforms such as World Championships, World Cups, continental and regional General Assemblies and Coach Development Forums as potent platforms to communicate and reinforce the importance of safeguarding in sport.

6. The safeguarding in sport culture is a learning and listening culture

Developing a culture of learning and listening is essential in building a strong safeguarding in sport culture. A safeguarding in sport learning culture is significant in the ever-changing safeguarding in sport climate, because it helps sport organisations to be super sensitive to the dynamic changes in the sports ecosystem. One of the most important aspects of building a robust safeguarding culture is building a safeguarding learning environment that draws  important lessons from safeguarding cases, incident, reports and interventions.

A safeguarding in sport learning culture cultivates swift sharing of safeguarding information, intelligence and insights within the sport organisation which can be interrogated, interpreted, defined in terms of implications and then implemented into actionable safeguarding programmes, practices, policies and procedures. The learning and listening culture in safeguarding in sport draws the wealth of data through learning from the internal environment and external environment, hence building strong safeguarding in sport systems.

7. The safeguarding in sport culture of international sport organisations forms the fabric of safeguarding within continental, regional, national and local sport organisations

The international sport federations have a significant influence on the culture of safeguarding as they oversee continental and regional bodies which, in turn, oversee national governing bodies. The safeguarding in sport culture is shaped by the policies, processes, practices and programmes that the international federation shares downwards.

Continental and regional bodies often model their systems in line with International Federations. FIFA recently published the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding Tool kit, which will be shared with it respective continental and regional bodies to help curb abuse in football. Whilst this strategic move is critical, International federations need to understand the geopolitical dynamics of regions and work closely with them in building safeguarding systems that meet the unique safeguarding landscape within the specific regions.

8. The safeguarding in sport culture invests in safeguarding training to gain results from a thriving safeguarding in sport system

The employees of sport organisations are the most important asset in the implementation of safeguarding in sport procedures. The success or failure of safeguarding in sport systems largely depends on the level of skills that the employees have in executing the safeguarding in sport mandate. Strategic and systematic training is therefore critical in enhancing safeguarding capacity, increasing safeguarding competences, improving safeguarding knowledge and sharpening safeguarding skills which, ultimately, contribute to the building a strong safeguarding in sport culture and successful implementation of safeguarding policies.

9. The safeguarding in sport culture is not the responsibility of the safeguarding officer, but is the responsibility of the entire sport organisation

Safeguarding in sport is a team sport. It requires the collaboration of the entire organisation. The employment of a safeguarding officer by a sport organisation does not mean the entire safeguarding responsibility is carried by a single individual.

The building a safeguarding in sport culture is responsibility of the entire sport organisation, from the bottom to the top. It is vital for all members of sport organisations to be cognisant of their safeguarding responsibility and to know the set safeguarding in sport processes, procedures, policies and practices whenever a safeguarding case or concern arises.

10. The safeguarding in sport culture is the cornerstone of care in sport

Participation in sport comes with inherent vulnerability. Care for sport participants and sport organisations is the heartbeat of safeguarding in sport. The safeguarding in sport culture is the culture of care that is highly conscious of the need to provide emotional, mental, sexual, physical and relational safety to sport participants for them to fully enjoy the benefits of sport. When care is culture it becomes nature and not duty, thus building a safeguarding in culture founded on the principle of protecting sport participants from any form of harm or abuse.

11. The safeguarding in sport culture is underpinned by a strong systematic monitoring examination and review of the safeguarding environment

The safeguarding in sport culture grows by building a strong systematic monitoring examination and review of the safeguarding environment, policies, procedures, and processes. As the safeguarding in sport movement is evolving, review and reporting systems are critical to develop more robust safeguarding in sports cultures that protect vulnerable sport participants.

Safeguarding in sport culture has to be driven by safeguarding data accessed through reporting systems and safeguarding intelligence. The existing safeguarding culture in sport needs to embrace capturing, maintaining, sharing and storing data in order to inform policies, identify gaps, and develop better safeguarding in sport initiatives.

12. The safeguarding in sport culture has to form an essential part of any sport organisation’s DNA

The safeguarding in sport culture has to become part of the sport organisational identity that is transferred and shared amongst all the employees. Good safeguarding in sport culture is a mark of good governance that distinguishes a sport organisation and often builds a good reputation with sponsors, partners, regulatory authorities and funders. Sport employees have to be socialised into the safeguarding culture through intensive and regular training that deliberately integrates core values of safeguarding in sport, thereby improving the safeguarding cultures, capability and capacity of sport organisations.

13. The safeguarding in sport culture is built on the foundation of partnerships

The safeguarding in sport culture is built on the bedrock of solid internal and external partnerships that are developed by the sport organisations. Different organisations play strategic, regulatory, monitoring, funding, advocacy, publicity and delivery roles in relation to safeguarding. Sport organisations that build different partnerships with national, statutory, regulatory, government and non-governmental organisations – as well as  regional, continental and international bodies – work collaboratively to build conducive safeguarding environments and a strong safeguarding in sport culture.

• This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 3 December 2019. Click here for the original.

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