Sport and young people

Many leaders become involved in sport for young people for a variety of different reasons, from a variety of sporting backgrounds and take on varying roles within clubs and organizations. Yet irrespective of the role or responsibility, we share a common goal in our commitment to sport for young people. We want sport to be safe, we want sport to be fun and we want to ensure that no matter what sport young people are involved in, that it takes place in the spirit of ‘fair play’.


Fair play is the guiding principle of The Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport. It is Designed to provide guidance for those working with young people in sport. It outlines for sports organizations the type of issues that need to be discussed and addressed to provide the safest and most enjoyable environment for young people.


The main reasons young people want to take part in sport are they want to learn new skills, make new friends, be part of a group, to win and be successful, experience excitement, challenges and action. These too, are the reasons why most leaders are involved in sport for young people. We know sport has a lot to offer. Yet, irrespective of whether we want them to become fitter, more confident, more sociable or more skillful, we want young people to enjoy what they are doing and we want to create the safest possible environment in which they can do this.


A Child Friendly Club

There are a number of steps a sports club/organization can take to ensure a fun and safe sporting environment

For young people.

1. Examine the role the club/organization plays in the quality of the participant’s involvement.

Are all participants encouraged to?

  • Have a go – put in their best effort
  • Improve their skills
  • Make friends
  • Play by the rules
  • Appreciate/accept everyone in the group, regardless of ability, race, religion, gender etc.
  • Accept winning and losing as part of the game
  • Consider the reasons why young people want to play sport and compare them with the club/organization
  • Attitude to sport for young people. It may be necessary to make adjustments to the policies and procedures Of the club/organization.


2. Encourage members to be role models to junior members – participants learn best by example:

Show appreciation of, and respect towards, officials and their decisions

  1. Encourage participants to play within the rules
  2. Behave responsibly on the sidelines and in all interactions involving young people
  3. Focus on the fun and participation of young people in the activity

“I had a great time, I learnt a new game, and I made some new friends”


3. Examine the structures within the club/organization. They should encourage the development

Of young people, making them the center of all the club/organization’s activities, policies and

Procedures. Ensure that the club/organization:

  •  Operates on the basis of a constitution which promotes a child-centered approach 
  • Has adopted The Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in Ireland
  • Has its members affiliated and signed up to an agreed code of good practice 
  • Clearly defines and outlines the roles and duties of leaders
  • Has proper selection, recruitment and management policies in place, applicable to all members
  • Has an effective disciplinary and complaints procedure, including an appeals procedure
  • Appoints Children’s Officers


4. The Sports Leader is an important influence on the young person’s enjoyment of sport. It is important that the club supports the leader as much as possible by:

  •  Encouraging an emphasis on fun as well as competition
  • Providing opportunities for young people to socialize learn and improve new skills
  • Providing each junior member with a chance to participate
  • Encouraging leaders to use modified games or equipment where possible
  • Communicating often with leaders
  • Offering leaders an opportunity to attend appropriate training
  • Encouraging other committee members to attend or assist at sessions


5. Parents can also play their part to support the club/organization. Encourage them to:

  • Become a member of the club and commit to an agreed code of good practice
  • Become the Children’s Officer
  • Take an active interest or offer to help in the running of the club, club events or any sporting
  • Activities in which their child takes part
  • Be aware of their child’s training and/or competitive programs and its suitability for the child


6. Encourage all leaders working with young people to undertake appropriate education & training.

The Irish Sports Council and the National Coaching and Training Centre will work with Governing

Bodies and Clubs in the implementation of a specially designed module on working with ‘Children in Sport’, which will be available to leaders and Children’s Officers.

 General Training for all those working with young people should include:

  • The Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport
  • Knowledge specific to, or experience of, working with children, including the ‘Children in Sport’
  • Training module.
  • Understanding of child development as it relates to sport
  • Communication skills
  • A recognized up-to-date coaching qualification from your National Governing Body to lead sport
  • Specific sessions
  • Awareness of the appropriate response to suspicions or reports of child abuse
  • Knowledge of or access to relevant first aid



Take from the ISC dated 1-11-2011

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