If your child is seldom involved in organized sports then the best way forward is to join a sports club or team. The most reliable way to find out about suitable clubs is through Word of mouth, so ask other parents for a recommendation, rhen visit the club that you can meet rhe coach and check Out the facilities. A well-run club will always happy to let you 100k around and ask questions. Alternatively, you could contact the governing body for the sport that your child is interested in, for example the Football Associanon, as they often publish countrywide lists Of recommended clubs.
Before you leave your child in the care Of a sports club and its leaders, it’s vital to make the following checks:
. The coach should have a recognized qualification and should also be trained in child protection and health and safety prcxedures. They should have exFrience dealing With your child’s age group.
.All coaches and volunteers should have had a Criminal Records Bureau check. nuis ensures that they have not committed any offence that would make them unsuitable to work With children and young people.
.The club sh(Nld have clear guidclir?s a bout physical contact and social relationships between staff, volunteers and participating children. The Criminal Records Bureau check .Only picks up people Who have Exen caught committing an offence, so it’s vital that the club has strict guükhnes in place to protect your child.
.There should a written Cock of Conduct that sets out. What is required of staff and participants and rules out bullying, shounng, racism, sexism or any Other unacceptable behav iour.
.All equipment should safe well maintained.
.The facilities should be clean and safe. Find out What precautions arc in place to prevent strangers walking in off the street.
.If the club is open to boys and girls, male and female staff should available.
.If the club satisfies all the above requirements, the next step is to find out what sort of experience your child will have if they join. It’s a good idea to ask the following questions:
.What do coaching sessions involve and what does the coach hope to achieve? best to look for a club that alms for gradual improvement rather than a succession of wins, as this can create an atmosphere of unhealthy competinon.
.Will your child get to play in matches even if they are not among the strongest players?
.What costs Will be involved and Will your child need special kit or equipment?
.What leagues and tournaments does the team play in and how regularly do they play? This could prove costly or cause trans rt problems if you have to drive your child to.
.What is the ratio of staff to children? Young children need more supervision, as do disabled children and children who are playing sports with a higher risk of injury.
Joining a club is the best way to help your child progress in sport and a good coach will know how to get the best out of your child, so provided you take care to make all the necessary checks you should have no grounds for concern. DO make sure that the club has at least two of your contact telephone numbers for use in an emergency, as accidents do happen. And if, at a Later date, you have any concerns about the club — for example, you think that your child is being bullied, pushed too hard or seems worried or distressed — be sure to take it up with the coach as soon as possible. Fortunately, serious problems are rare and if your child is happy and looks forarard to practices and matches, then you can be confident that all is well.