English football is uniting this weekend to promote Play Safe - a countrywide campaign to focus attention on the vital importance of safeguarding in our national game.
The focus of this year's campaign is on the safeguarding role everyone has to play – coaches, players, parents/carers, spectators or volunteers – to keep children and young people safe, no matter the football setting.
For Everton in the Community (EitC), Play Safe has created an opportunity to empower Premier League Inspires participants to help shape their own understanding of what safeguarding is, its importance, and what actions to take if they or someone else needs support.
“When thinking about how we introduce safeguarding to our schools, we thought about how we took for granted the words that we use, and how we can be more age-appropriate and use more child-friendly terminology,” says Carly Wheeler, EitC's secondary education manager.
By working with participants of PL Inspires, a personal development programme for young people aged 11 to 18 years old who are at risk of not reaching their potential, EitC has evaluated how much they know about safeguarding and developed a set of interactive resources for the classroom.
Designed to replace jargon with language that is friendly to young people, these resources help to break down barriers and encourage conversations about safeguarding, supporting each other and raising concerns.
The @FA's safeguarding campaign, #PlaySafe, will be highlighted in matches across the country this weekend.— Everton (@Everton) September 28, 2023
Coaches, players, parents, carers, spectators; everyone has a role to play in keeping children and young people safe, no matter what the football setting. ⚽️
Initially piloted to 300 students across 10 schools, EitC’s PL Inspires safeguarding sessions will be rolled out to more than 900 students across the 2023/24 season.
Julie Lloyd, EitC's safeguarding manager, is keen to extend this reach even further across other areas of their community and wider football activities.
“After the success of last year’s pilot, we are looking at opportunities to build on these resources," says Julie. "The next stage is getting this safeguarding activity embedded within our Premier League Primary Stars programme delivery, other community activities, and then within both the academy and women's professional game academy.”
In addition to the positive impact on PL Inspires participants, the resource has encouraged EitC staff to undertake further safeguarding training to improve their confidence and ensure that they consistently deliver best practice.
Play Safe weekend
Play Safe weekend takes place from Friday 30 September to Monday 2 October.
Led by The Football Association, the Play Safe campaign is endorsed by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and will be supported this weekend by every level of English football, including the Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, and across the grassroots game.