Gary Lineker and Kevin Sinfield support course from Ilkley-based High Speed Training to protect rising sports stars

Leading figures from the world of sport are supporting a course created by a Yorkshire company which aims to stop young people from being mistreated while participating in grassroots sport.

The former England, Liverpool and Manchester City football player, Paul Stewart, in partnership with High Speed Training, has developed a new survivor-led course to protect rising sports stars, following research which reveals that a third of parents are unsure whether their child’s sports coaches have undertaken safeguarding training.

The study, which was commissioned by the Ilkley-based training provider, questioned 1,000 parents of children attending grassroots sports clubs about their experiences and knowledge of safeguarding at their club.

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A spokesman said: "With reports indicating that between 40-50% of athletes have experienced some form of abuse, and many high-profile sporting figures speaking out, the new safeguarding course brings a wave of hope to those most passionate about protecting children taking part in sports."

Speaking of the course, Gary Lineker OBE said: “It’s thanks to the work that grassroots sports clubs do that children have the opportunity to play sport. This course is designed so that coaches can get on with what they do best, safe in the knowledge that their safeguarding procedures are robust and up to date"”

Paul Stewart, said: “I am delighted that, by working with safeguarding and training experts, High Speed Training, I have been able to produce something which can make such a positive impact on an issue that is personal to my life.

“By developing this course, I am determined to turn what was such an upsetting childhood experience into something positive for children in sport."

The spokesman added: "Concerningly, one in ten (10%) parents stated that they’re unsure whether they’d be confident in identifying the signs of abuse, be that physical, sexual, or emotional, in a child. Given that 86% of children participate in sports, these numbers are stark."

"This is also documented in the recent Truth Project Thematic Report on Child Sexual Abuse in Sports , which stated that ‘adults failed to respond appropriately to behavioural changes or other indicators of concern in children, even when these were very apparent."

Paul Stewart

Further research by the NSPCC also highlighted the lack of parental knowledge when it comes to safeguarding in sports, with 20% of parents whose children attend sports and leisure clubs admitting that they wouldn’t know who to speak to if they had any worries about a child’s welfare at the club.

The spokesman added: "The new course, which is backed by sporting icons such as Gary Lineker, rugby league giant Kevin Sinfield, former England and British Lions great Brian Moore, Olympic medalist Marilyn Okoro and Ryder Cup golfer Ian Poulter, provides sports coaches, parents and volunteers with the tools to be able to confidently identify and prevent abusive behaviours in grassroots sports, as well as understanding and implementing the recommended safeguarding procedures around the above points."

Speaking of the course, Gary Lineker OBE said: “It’s thanks to the work that grassroots sports clubs do that children have the opportunity to play sport. This course is designed so that coaches can get on with what they do best, safe in the knowledge that their safeguarding procedures are robust and up to date. Unfortunately, history tells us that things can go wrong, so club leaders need to ensure that they put measures in place to prevent any abuse taking place.”

Richard Anderson, head of content production at High Speed Training comments: “We’re honoured to be working with Paul and other sports heroes on this important, survivor-led course. Our research shows that there is more that needs to be done to ensure that parents and coaches are both able to identify signs of abuse and mistreatment and report it appropriately, and prevent any form of abuse happening at their sports club.

“With a third of parents unsure whether their child’s sports coaches have undertaken safeguarding training, we hope that our research will encourage people to initiate these important conversations and encourage enrollment on the course to protect our young aspiring athletes.”

For more information on High Speed Training’s Safeguarding in Sport course, visit: https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/safeguarding-people/safeguarding-in-sport/.

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