Child Protection

Child Protection and Safeguarding Children in Football..

This is an email I got from a parent last week.

“My son is currently trialing on the U13 representative squad, which is now down to a player pool of 24 players, mostly 12-year-old, some are still 11. My son takes great exception as do I obviously to the choice of language used by the head coach in this setup. His all too liberal use of the word ‘f@ck’ and ‘b*ll*cks’ and calling phases of play as ‘shit’ when addressing the group of players. I find this offensive to my son and I would suspect most of the other players in that group do also.

My son has asked me to clarify why he talks like that the whole time. I’ve found myself trying to explain to my son, what goes on inside the head of such an individual, that would make that coach think it’s perfectly fine to address children in such a manner. Basically, I’ve told my son that’s it’s absolutely never acceptable for an adult to speak to a group of children in such a way.

I’m hoping my son does not make it to the next round of players where it gets paired down to 16 players, as he’s not enjoying the experience the way he should be, because of this coaches liberal use of profanity when he opens his mouth to speak.

I know I should just take my son out of this setup but what does this say bout letting individuals supervising children use profanity liberally and unchecked. I should just remove my son and walk away. 

My question to you is what recourse do I have, to force this individual to at least reassess his very poor behaviour, without drawing any kind of retaliation from this coach or league?

I don’t see how I could trust that the league could address this issue internally themselves, as its quite a sensitive matter and really should be addressed by an external entity.

So it looks like I’ll have to take my son out of this environment as it’s not conducive in the least bit to him learning the game. I can see this developing a sense of fear in my son when he plays for this representative team and which will lead to mistakes when he’s developing his own understanding of how to play.

What should I do? 

I suggest that he go straight to Child Welfare Officer and address the matter. That was turned down, so I offered to email the child welfare officer myself and the parent accepted.  this what they said.

This is their reply, which I received by text after my email:

League: Does this manager relate to the u13s Squad?

TCD: Yeah u13s as stated in the email:

League: Ok, Can you ask the parent involved to contact me.

TCD: I’ll ask again but I know he doesn’t want too.

League: If he doesn’t want to make a formal then there is little I can do. We have a number of coaching staff at that level. Don’t even know who it is. If he doesn’t pursue though I’ll speak to the coordinator and alert them to be watchful.

This reply is from the Child Welfare Officer of a very big league. Talking about not wanting to do sweet FA about a complaint. It is their job to investigate these matters not pass it onto to the person who the complaint might be about.

Let’s look at the Definition and Role of Children’s Officers

The Code of Ethics describes the role of the Club Children’s Officer. The Irish Sports Council have approved training established to meet the requirement of this role. At least one Children’s Officer should hold an up to date certificate of Child Protection and all Children’s Officers should be familiar with the Code of Ethics and Child Welfare Guidelines. 

The Club Children’s Officer should be child-centered in focus and should have as his/her 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 Committee on how club policy etc. impacts on children and their Sports Leaders.

Given the need to ensure that children are valued within all sporting contexts at least one Children’s Officer, preferably two, must be appointed by all clubs, subject to appropriate selection and recruitment procedures as recommended within the Code of Ethics.

Some of the skills required for a Children’s Officer are:

  • A good listener
  • Approachable
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality

The primary role of the Children’s Officer is the welfare of the children. They should be available to any player or parent who has concerns. Their contact numbers should be made available to all members of clubs and their parents.

Children’s Officers must operate independently of their club’s administrative and coaching structure. They must not be committee members or coaches. They must operate a strict code of confidentiality within the club, but if a concern about child protection comes to the Children’s Officer they should inform the designated person or, if not possible, the appropriate statutory authority.

The Children’s Officer should have the following functions:

  • to promote awareness of necessary child welfare policies and procedures
  • to influence policy and practice within the club in order to prioritise children’s needs
  • to provide an accessible resource to children
  • to encourage the involvement of parents/guardians in the club activities and co-operate with them in ensuring a safe and enjoyable environment for their children
  • to act as an advisory resource to Leaders on best practice in children’s sport
  • to meet with the Club Management Committee as required but at least once a year
  • to ensure the election of male and female club captains with whom they can liaise to ensure the voice of the young person is heard

Children’s Officers must never investigate or validate child protection concerns without or within the club and have no counseling or therapeutic role. These roles are filled by the Statutory Authorities. It is, however, possible that child protection concerns will be brought to the attention of the Children’s Officer. In this event, it is essential that the correct procedures are followed, i.e. that reports are passed on immediately to the designated person who reports to the Statutory Authorities.

I don’t believe this league has followed the correct protocol for handling complaints, what do you think?


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary and @LetTheKidPlay

Child Protection The Coach Diary

Making contact via social media!

We live in a world where people talk (face-to-face and by phone) less but interact more online. Social skills are declining.  As a coach you need to know what is appropriate and what’s not. For those of you on Facebook, getting a friend request from students/players you coach/teach (or interact with) is more than likely a regular occurrence. My advice to you is DO NOT accept and if you have already I suggest you de-friend or if that’s not an option then edit privacy settings.

You’re probably asking, ‘What’s the big deal?’

…..well let me start by saying there could be a child welfare issue and you may not even know it. Also your club may have rules around social media in the same way lots of schools do.

I’ve noticed a lot of teams setting up their own private groups and some with kids as young as u12s. Firstly kids need to be 13 before they are legally allowed use social networking sites like Facebook and secondly the private pages with kids (and I have thought of doing one for our team) that parents don’t have access to might actually seem suspicious to some, even thought the group page is perfectly normal to you. With Children gaining access to social media sites at a younger age (and they may have only set-up their profile to be part of your group), could expose them to content, people or situations that are out of their depth and which they’re not emotionally prepared for and you don’t want this falling back on your shoulders. Plus most teenagers will not enter into a group that their parents are also part of, however this will certainly vary with age. 

What’s the alternative…?

A like page might be another option and this way others will be able to see what your discussing but you may not want to give away some of your tactics…… but hey – if Ajax can share, then so can you!!!

Setting up ‘pages’ for classes, schools, clubs might be the better way to go. Students/Players can ‘like’ the page to get updates from it and interact with its wall in the same way they might with a teachers personal profile. You get all the benefits, with much less of the risk involved (personally and professionally) of ‘friending’ students. Pages are also a better way to share digital content.

From a club’s perspective it is easier to write policies and manage the risks if they allow ‘pages’, but disallow coaches to connect via their profiles. There certainly are many benefits to pages and groups with your team but there are also many reasons why not to start one, particularly for some of the younger ages, this might differ for kids aged 15+.

I’ll finish by saying personally I feel NO contact via social media (especially for under 15s) with students/players is probably the safe options. If you like to keep your private life private then don’t enter into contact with players via personal FB page and there is no harm in letting them know that you’d prefer not to be ‘friend requested’ for this very reason. At the same time if you’re working with a older group of teenagers there is certainly good reasons to make contact this way as this might be the only way you can reach them. Most 16 year olds I know, never have credit!!

Let me know how you feel about this and if you have set up a group of any sort or a page for your team?

Do you think it’s ok for coaches to interact with players via social media and what age do you think it’s acceptable?

As you have read I’m not totally against the idea as there are benefits.


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me, if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Child Protection

The Abusive Coach

When coaches cross the line into physical or verbal abuse, they negatively affect players’ abilities to develop through sports. Parents have a right to know who they are leaving their kid(s) with. They also have a right to step in if they feel their child is not longer in a safe place.

If your child is in an emotionally unsafe situation because of a coach’s abusive behaviour: The coach is demeaning, humiliating, disrespectful, shaming, uses foul language, continuously puts the player down in front of his/her team mates, and/or does not teach in a positive and constructive way – and basically, he/she badly abuses the power differential in the coach-player relationship, then the job of  a parent is to step in and immediately protect the CHILD.

Easier said then done, right!

It takes a lot of courage to speak up when situations like this arise. especially when many organisation have an attitude that parents should just keep quiet and not get involved. Most coaches start out with the right intentions, but unfortunately so many get caught up in winning over development.

Speaking from experience, there is NEVER any good excuse for this kind of coaching style. a teacher in a classroom would be sacked on the spot if they engaged in some the the abuse we see and hear every-weekend on the sidelines across kids sports.

Regardless of the coach or his/her past, what they achieved and may have produced, there is no justification for this style of coaching. This style of coaching does not make players tougher, it doesn’t make them better and certainly doesn’t help them perform or focus for competition.

“When winning is more important to the coach than the experience of his/her players’ participation then EMOTIONAL and sometimes PHYSICAL ABUSE are the end result”. – Dr. Goldberg

Generally these are the coaches that end up making the child afraid to make mistakes (they generally end up making more) and take risks. They kill the child’s love for the sport and destroy their self-esteem, which generally leads to a player not having reached their true potential and a long life of poor performances in the sport…..a sport they got into because it was FUN.

I’m a Parent of an abusive coach, what can I do? 

  1. It’s best to make note of any kind of unacceptable behaviour.
  2. Log what was said, maybe even use some audio to record what is being said, so you don’t forget it.
  3. Ask other kids on the team what was said.
  4. You may need to speak to some of the parents to get their backing and feeling on the situation. (Don’t let things get out of hand, address the issue as soon as possible).
  5. Don’t allow it to become a parents v’s coach situation.

The next thing to do is approach the coach and say you would like to arrange a meeting with them (Before, during or after training and/or a game is never a good time).

  • A phone call should suffice and best to pick a day that won’t interfere with the team’s schedule.
  • Notify the coach why you want to meet them and arrange to meet ASAP.


Make sure you pick a quiet location and one that is not frequented by other club members. You don’t want to be interrupted.

  • You called the meeting so it’s best that you also take control of it;
  • Give the coach an opportunity to speak first and try not to interrupt them;
  • Once they are finished. (make sure they are) you can know have your say;
  • Be calm but be firm if required;
  • The Coach may be upset already and you getting upset at them will only add fuel to the fire. Be calm;
  • Never enter into someone “personal space”. When we do this it activates self-protection instinct and can escalate;
  • Avoid getting into their face. Be scrupulous. Be calm. Seek first to understand then to be understood.

If you attended a pre-season meeting with the coach and/or the club has guidelines in relation to respecting the players. Make reference to this commitment and how everyone committed to it at the beginning of the season including the coach.

  • Recognise the coaches commitment to the team and show your appreciation for all their efforts;
  • Explain to the coach that he/she needs to be more positive with the kids and being demeaning, humiliating, disrespectful, shaming and continuously putting the player down is not acceptable and you will not allow it to go on;
  • Tell them you understand how hard it can be to coach kids and maybe they could do with getting some guidance from other coaches at the club;
  • Sometimes no matter what you do or how well you handle a situation, nothing helps. Recognise when to step back so that you don’t make matters worse;
  • Call on members of the committee to step in and help resolve the situation if you can’t.

If the coach becomes angry, defensive and/or blatantly misinterprets your complaints as simply those of a disgruntled parent, unhappy with their child’s playing time, then document your meeting and the coach’s responses, and then approach the organisations coaching committee.

If they are unconcerned and/or unresponsive to your complaints, then go over their head to the someone higher like the child welfare officer. If this person unwilling to intervene and take action, then go to the organisation board members. If no one associated with the club is willing to do their job, which is to help protect the kids and insure that they are in a safe learning environment, then it might be time to make bigger waves. The sports governing body might be the next step and if this doesn’t work take your story to the local media. Obviously you would never expect or want any situation to get this far without a resolution.


It is a sad statement that many abusive coaches exist because the system that they operate in colludes with their bullying behaviour and why? Because the system is broken, parental complaints are frequently swept under the rug and not taken serious enough! This is why you need to stand up and speak out against these people.

A coach should be “demanding without being demeaning.”

It is up to the club administrators, Child Welfare Officer and Director of Coaching to find the right coaches to maintain a positive culture for the players. All Clubs should have their own coaching and child protection philosophy and if they don’t then you are entitled to ask them why?

The priority of a coach is the welfare of the kids that play the game. You don’t need qualification to know that you’re number one aim is to make training enjoyable and fun. One way for doing this is making training not feel like it’s training.

Where so many fall down is when they place their needs over those of the children their supposed to be guiding and developing. So many coaches believe that the win-loss outcome of their game at the weekend is far more important than the process of participation, player development, character development and most importantly the safety of the players.

I’ll finish

by saying that if you know of an abusive coach then it’s your responsibility to approach that individual and confront them. They may not even know they’re being abusive and in so many cases they don’t know any better. Again I would advice to you use your discretion and find a time and place in private to approach the coach.  Make them aware of the affect it’s having on the kids.

You could say, ” Are you aware that when you shout at the kids, it makes them scared of you and stops them from playing? I think it would be more beneficial to the kids if you could lower your voice and not shout so much when coaching them. Try be a little more positive, they’re only kids”. 

Like I mentioned above, the coach may respond with anger, if this is the case, and they become abusive, then it’s your responsibility to take your concerns to the clubs board.

In Ireland we have tolerated child abuse for many decades and it’s time it stopped! It is our primary responsibility as people working with kids to insure that the KIDS who play sports remain safe at all times. We need a society where Child abusers are never allowed to work with children.

The vast majority of coaches working with children are top top people but there is always a percentage that still haven’t learnt or developed the new ways of how to deal with children.


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me, if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Child Protection Childrens Health Irish Grassroots Football Soccer Parents

Players Pledge

Last week it was the parent’s turn to take the pledge and be a supportive parent. Responsibility also falls on the players to commit to their game, do the best they can possible do and respect the opposition, their fellow players and the officials.

“When I grew up, it was children competing against children. Now, more often than not, it’s adults competing against other adults through their children.” – John O’Sullivan 

Kids can provide a positive attitude and be a honourable participator.

I pledge to have a positive attitude and to do my very best each and every time I play sports:

  1. I will be a good sportsperson and respect my fellow players, coaches, officials, parents and the opposition.
  2. I will arrive on time to training and games.
  3. I will do my best in training and not miss a session when it is reasonably possible.
  4. I will make sure if I’m missing training or a game, my parents notify the coach at all times.
  5. If I train I will expect to receive a fair and equal amount of playing time.
  6. I will always treat people with respect, including my fellow players; coaches and parents. I will expect the same from them.
  7. I will always play with a smile and have fun and will notify parents or coaches if it stops being fun.
  8. I deserve to play in a healthy, safe and friendly environment and I expect adults to make sure my wish is respected.
  9. I will encourage my parents to come to my game and support me in a positive way. I want to make them proud of me today.
  10. I will do my very best in school. I know that sport is very important part of growing up and I also know that education is even more important.
  11. I will wear my club colours with pride and make sure I always have my full kit in training and on match day.
  12. I will play in any position my coach asks me to play in. I will put my team first and give 100% effort every time.

“When a kids plays sport the most important thing is that they have a good time, having fun is one way of making sure of that” – TCD

DOWNLOAD TCD Player’s Pledge, sign it and give it to your coach. 

Have a wonderful season playing sport.

Put it in your calendar: 


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter  @Coachdiary

Child Protection Childrens Health Irish Grassroots Football Soccer Parents

Take The Pledge, 16 Elements in support of your child’s sport.

Why not start the season and take the pledge to be more encouraging at your kids match. This way you commit to implementing a healthier and sustainable pathway to success, which falls on the shoulders of everyone involved with Kids Sports – especially Parents.

TCD wants to insure that Kids Sport can be enjoyed in a safe and positive environment. Remember that football and all sport provide kids with the opportunity to develop, their Technical, Physical, Tactical (older) and social skills.

Winning is not the number 1 reason they get involved.

Parents are continually asked by clubs to get involved and be a supportive spectator, here is one way to can be just that.

I here by pledge to provide positive support, praise and encouragement for my child participating in this game, by following the Parent Pledge.

  1. I will let my child play and have fun in a safe environment.
  2. I will let my child choose the sport(s) he/she wants to play.
  3. I will get my child to and from training/matches on time.
  4. I will remember that the game is for kids and not for adults.
  5. I will let the coaches take responsibility for instructing and teaching my child.
  6. I will refrain from making negative comments about my child’s coach in my child’s presence. I understand that everyone is trying their best and sometimes people make mistakes. By doing this I understand this will avoid planting negatives thoughts in my child’s head that can negatively influence his/her motivation and sports experience.
  7. I will focus on using sports to teach life lessons to my child and his teammates.
  8. I will teach my child what it is to be a ‘Winner’. A winner is someone who gives their best Effort, always want to Learn and does not let Mistakes, or fear of making mistakes stop them from improving.
  9. I will provide positive encouragement to my child and his or her teammates and will never ridicule or yell at my child for losing a game or competition.
  10. I will limit my comments during the game. The game can be a very chaotic experience for my child, especially trying to deal with the fast-paced action and having to listen to teammates directions, as well as blank out, all the sideline noise and focus on things the coaching staff are saying. I will not at to the confusion.
  11. I will set an example to always respect the game and encourage my child to remember the ROOTS (Respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates & Self). I will never engage in, or tolerate, offensive, insulting, or abusive language or behaviour towards any official, coach, player or spectator.
  12. I will be in control of my self and my emotions on the sideline and pledge to stay quiet if I have nothing positive to say.
  13. I will ensure the trip back home in the car is a positive one.
  14. I will always say things like, ‘I love watching you play’ and ‘Did you have fun?’ and “Did you do your best?’ to my child after their game.
  15. I will always make sure my child has fun. I understand that the top 3 reasons kids play sport are to 1. Have fun 2. Make New Friends. 3. Learn new skills and that far less than 1% of all participants ever make it to the professional level of the game.
  16. I will not live my dreams through my child.

Yes, I commit to making my child’s sport experience a Healthy and Enjoyable one!

DOWNLOAD The Parent Pledge, sign it and hand the top half to your child’s coach. Have a great season supporting your child’s team!

Next post is the ‘Player’s Pledge’ 


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter  @Coachdiary


Child Protection

Children in Sport Code of Ethics

I attended the Irish Sports Council and FAI Awareness Workshop for Children in Sport. The child protection in sport awareness workshop is interactive and you will be prepared to get involved in the the 2.5 hr workshop.

It is the responsibility of all adults involved in football to actively promote best practice standards whilst being ever vigilant and aware of their responsibilities. Completing this workshop is part of your responsibility to the welfare and safety of children, which is paramount.

Children First Legislation was published on the 14th April.

The Bill provides for a number of key child protection measures, as follows:

  • A requirement on organisations providing services to children to keep children safe and to produce a Child Safeguarding Statement;
  • A requirement on defined categories of persons (mandated persons) to report child protection concerns over a defined threshold to the Child and Family Agency (the Agency);
  • A requirement on mandated persons to assist the Agency in the assessment of a child protection risk, if so requested to do so by the Agency;
  • Putting the Children First Interdepartmental Group on a statutory footing.

Provisions of the Bill will ensure that concerns about children will be brought to the attention of the Agency without delay and improve the quality of reports made to the Agency and the quality of follow up on concerns. The new legislation will operate in tandem with the existingChildren First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children [2011]. Obligations on organisations

Organisations providing services to children and young people will now be required to undertake an assessment of any risks to a child while the child is availing of its services, and use this as the basis for developing a Child Safeguarding Statement. The purpose of the Statement is to identify how the organisation will manage any risks identified in the risk assessment. The Safeguarding Statement will also outline how staff/volunteers will be provided with information to identify abuse which children may experience outside the organisation, and what they should do with any concerns about child safety.

Minister Fitzgerald said it will strengthen the approach to protecting children in Ireland. “This brings an absolute clarity to the requirement to report abuse, to intervene if you’re aware a child is being abused,” she said. “So this strengthens the approach to protecting children in this country in a very important way.”

Mandated Reporters

Mandated reporters are persons who, by virtue of their training, responsibilities and experience should have an awareness of issues relating to child protection. These professionals either work with children or young people or they are in service sectors that encounter adults or families and children where there is risk of abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters will be required to report information regarding child abuse above a defined threshold which comes to their attention in the course of their professional or employment duties. They will also be required to report any direct disclosures of abuse from a child. 

“Our Goal is that children’s soccer is a safe & fun for all participants and conducted in the spirit of fair play” FAI


The FAI had up until recently 1 tutor responsible for child protection, now they have over 24, such is the seriousness of this bill. Any person working with children (This means everyone at the club) will be required to get Garda vetted and attend this workshop. The Chairman of the club is ultimately responsible for child welfare at the club not the child welfare officer as you might imagine.

I would suggest anyone involved with youth football to read Rule 71 and Rule 72 of the FAI > FINAL-Rule-Book and it’s best you do this course ASAP.

It was great to sit down with coaches and discuss some of the issues concerning the kids game at present. We all know that we could certainly be doing a lot more, to make the game a more enjoyable experience for the kids that play it.

You will also find some more information on The Irish Sports Council Website > The Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in Ireland 

For more information and a list of FAI courses > Child Protection Course


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Child Protection

Children First

No media presentation of sport would be complete without the “expert panel” which encourages debate and generally raises interest in the game with their analysis. I once met a Coach who expressed the opinion that 95% of people who talk about soccer have not got a clue about the game.

Match analysis is now a buzz word but have we taken it too far in that we are now applying professional expectations on young children with far too much emphasis on winning. I’m sure many of you will have experienced the lunatic spectator ffing and blinding at the referee while screaming all sorts of instructions to the team. In my experience good players generally make good decisions while poor ones will make poor ones. But the reality is that we have to encourage players to make decisions for themselves.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of learning but is there too much emphasis on “mistakes” as any idiot can identify a missed chance or a poor pass. Research indicates that one of the greatest predictors of stress in children’s sport is the child’s perception of how important winning is to adults and this has also been identified as a reason for children give up sport. Spare a thought also for the poor child whose parent or parents are the lunatic on the line. While children love their parents generally, it does not stop them from being embarrassed by their behaviour. But then again “Johnny” is only seven so what can he do about it. Children may be children but don’t make the fatal mistake of thinking they have no brains. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t associate power with a seven year old but it’s a different proposition when they reach twelve and decide to make decisions for themselves.


So in conclusion, while we all accept the positive input of participating in sport for children should we not concentrate on eradicating behaviours that negatively impact on their enjoyment of the game and promote behaviours and practice that enhance their experiences. In terms of silent sideline, I sincerely hope that the children are prepared as the shock may be too much for them! 🙂

Just to remind everyone that Children First legislation is to be brought to cabinet in the next four weeks.

Article is written by Michael Lynam (Child Protection Consultant). Michael is available to deliver Child Protection Workshops. You can contact him at Tel. 015516657 or Mobile. 083 1464566


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary