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16 Dec 2022 33

Does the current ‘care system’ in sport and physical activity protect everyone equally?

A statement from UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon on duty of care in sport

There is no place for abuse of any kind in sport and physical activity.

Over the years, serious breaches of care in sport and physical activity have been well documented and we all (the sector) continue to strive to ensure the safeguarding of participants: particularly children, vulnerable adults, and those in high performance sport.

The Whyte Review commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England and written by Anne Whyte QC, following an extensive assessment of abuse allegations in gymnastics, outlines 17 recommendations to better protect participants.

The recommendations will have a far wider impact across sport and physical activity than just the sport of gymnastics, as they highlight systemic issues that need addressing across sport if we are to reduce the chances of harm.

Whilst it is critical that we all agree participants should be protected from harm, it is equally important that we recognise that everyone in sport and physical activity should be protected. That includes officials, support staff – such as nutritionists, physios, strength & conditioning specialists, administrators – and of course, coaches.

In the last year we have seen a significant rise in the number of coaches concerned about what they ‘can and can’t do’ with regards to their coaching practice. For the most part we direct these coaches to the learning and development content on our website, but for those who need specific support, such as legal support, we have provided this though our UK Coaching Membership.

What we have learned is that organisations in our sector all use different processes to deal with complaints and, for most part, these fail to protect all parties involved.

The 2017 Duty of Care in Sport Review called for consistent processes and procedures across all sports and the set-up of an independent Ombudsman with powers to hold governing bodies in sport to account for the Duty of Care they provide to all people involved in sport.

Whilst we fully support the recommendations made in the Whyte Review, we urge those responsible for putting wider governance, policies and procedures in place to consider the implications for all people involved.

UK Coaching is an independent membership organisation that represents all coaches, at all levels, across all activities.

The team at UK Coaching look forward to working with the system builders and policy makers to help shape a safe environment for everyone.

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