Two academics from Edge Hill University are working with UK Coaching to develop proposals to ensure the welfare of young athletes.

Dr Mike Hartill and Dr Melanie Lang, are working with UK Coaching, who is leading an industry-wide group to develop a set of proposals for safeguarding and protecting talented and elite young athletes.

The group will seek to ensure that welfare remains a priority before, during and after involvement in talent pathways, which help promising athletes reach an elite level.

Four key areas of additional risk to talented and elite young athletes have been identified by the group: Training and competing away from home; general training and competition; club and training centre challenges; and support structure.

Proposals for these will be developed in line with recommendations made by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson in her independent review of the Duty of Care in Sport; the EU funded ‘Safeguarding Youth Sport’ report; and other reports, including the ‘Culture of Sport’ work carried out by UK Sport. The group will also engage with athletes themselves as key stakeholders in the process, and agree on the appropriate way to disseminate recommendations to the sector.

Melanie, Senior Lecturer in Child Protection in Sport, said:

“My role with UK Coaching involves helping identify some of the key safeguarding issues that specifically effect talented and elite athletes – we know from research that this group is more at risk of various forms of violence and abuse, for example. I’ve also authored a review of literature on intergenerational touch for the group’s research sub-group.

“Intergenerational touch in sport is one of my own areas of research, and the review identifies the key messages from research, suggestions on best practice for practitioners and highlights what further research is needed to plug our knowledge gap.

“We’re hopeful that these reviews of empirical research will be used to feed into coach education courses and position papers that UK Coaching delivers.”

“We’re pleased to be involved in this initiative and hope that we will be able to contribute to improving standards for children who aspire to the highest levels of performance in sport,” added Mike, Reader in the Sociology of Sport.

UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching, Emma Atkins, said:

“We are proud to be leading this group and are resolute in the matter of protecting talented and elite young athletes, and indeed all children who participate in sport and physical activity, whatever the level.

“This is an opportunity to ensure coaches, organisations, parents and athletes can support one another to be safe and successful.

“By investing in this group, we remain an industry leader in safeguarding and protecting children, strengthening our ties with the NSPCC and the Child Protection in Sport Unit. Collectively, this is our chance to show what can be achieved when organisations come together for a shared goal and vision.”

The UK Coaching group consists of The British Athletes Commission, The British Olympic Association, Cardiff Metropolitan University, The NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), Commonwealth Games England, Edge Hill University, England Boxing, Loughborough University, Sport Wales, SportsAid, The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, UK Anti-Doping, UK Sport, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust.