Another exciting Under-10 national tournament took place this summer at Loughborough University, with boys from 24 Premier League and Category 1 academies coming to the East Midlands for an action-filled couple of days.
The event is created to provide young boys in academies with the opportunity to travel away from home with their team and gain invaluable experiences both on and off the pitch, while having their parents, carers and guardians on site to support their involvement.
On the pitch, the players take part in a group-stage tournament, competing on behalf of their football clubs against boys from other Premier League and EFL academies. Off the pitch, the Under-10s and their families can listen and participate in education workshops and other activity supporting their personal development.
More than a game
David Rainford, the Premier League's Head of Education and Academy Player care said: “Events like these offer an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the academy system on areas such as player identity, safeguarding and wellbeing, heading and concussion and more.”
The Premier League is committed to ensuring that events like these create safe environments where players feel safe, valued and empowered and are comfortable to play their best football, with everybody understanding their collective responsibility for safeguarding.
The events involve partners like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Professional Footballers Association, who also attend to give face-to-face advice and support to parents, enabling conversations around a range of topics pertaining to those in the academy system. This includes details on the various ways they can best be supported and seek advice, while also learning more about the NSPCC's Childline service.
Communication with parents
Rachel Wallace, local campaigns manager, Midlands, NSPCC said: “Parents and players come and speak to us about safeguarding, how to keep safe in sport, and how to ask for help if they need it.
“We know that if parents and families know about the safeguarding procedures, know how to keep their children safe within the clubs, know what their expectations are as to what should be happening for their children, that really has an impact to help keep children safe.”
The safeguarding activity delivered as part of the tournament, is part of the Premier League and clubs ongoing commitment in this area, which also sees dedicated safeguarding staff embedded in all Premier League academies to promote the safety and welfare of children and young people and adults at risk.
'I feel someone would be there'
Nadine, a parent in attendance at the tournament, spoke about how crucial the support is for her.
“It’s really important when you’re coming to sessions like this, and if your child is stopping overnight from home, that they’re in an environment which is trusted, and it’s regulated," she said.
“I definitely feel like at any point I could ring [the club] and someone would be there. I’ve not needed too, but I feel like someone would be there to pick up any issues I would have.”
Play Safe weekend takes place from Friday 30 September to Monday 2 October and will see the Premier League once again join the EFL, Barclays Women's Super League and Barclays Women's Championship as every level of English football shows its support for the campaign, which is led by The Football Association and endorsed by the NSPCC.