Welsh golf is now officially among the best sports in the country in terms of the way it organises child protection, with their efforts recognised by the National Society for the Protection of Children.
The Golf Development Wales have been awarded top feedback for their child protection work, which makes all the junior development plans around Wales as safe as possible for the children, parents and volunteers.
Achieving the National Standards for Child Protection is recognition of the efforts which have been going on at clubs all round Wales, spearheaded by Golf Development Wales’s voluntary child protection officer Mike Rees.
His work will be used as an example by the NSPCC of how a volunteer role as Lead Child Protection Officer has really benefited the sport.
“It is very nice to get recognition and the feedback from the panel was very good,” said Rees, who works for South Wales Police and is a keen golfer. “We were one of 10 sports asked to do this, they picked some of the biggest sports, and we were one of the best. We had achieved all levels of the Standards, but it also identified some gaps we will continue to work on.
“It has been two years of very hard work – as a volunteer it is great that I fit in as well as part of the team and I must pay credit to the work of Hannah Fitzpatrick and everyone else at Golf Development Wales.
“We will go forward and try to improve things, but overall we are really pleased that we have made golf safer for children and for volunteers.
“Last year it took up about 15 days of my own time just for courses and meetings, so it is quite a commitment, but I have a young boy who plays golf and it is important to me that he is safe.
“A lot of clubs in Wales now have a junior co-ordinator and a welfare officer as part of achieving the Junior GolfCert Award – and we will look to plug the remaining gaps. For instance it is good practice for the golf pros to have CRB checks and a lot have done so.
“Golf Development Wales have been able to get some control through funding and events so they can stipulate certain standards and reinforce the message.
“That was a big step for Golf Development Wales to take and made my job a lot easier. Everyone in the Golf Union of Wales has played a part in this – the parents code of conduct, Nigel Edwards with the elite squads and Liz Edwards with the championships.
“A lot of it is common sense, putting things in place such as first aid provision, photography issues and so on, so that the volunteers who do so much for children can protect the young people as well as protecting themselves.”
Golf Union of Wales director of development Hannah Fitzpatrick was also delighted to have achieved the National Standards for Child Protection.
“A lot of the credit must go to Mike, he has made a fantastic contribution to clubs all round Wales, as a sport we could not have done this without him,” she said. “The feedback from the NSPCC was extremely complimentary and positive, they also highlighted that the quality of our application and presentation was extremely strong..
“They will be using golf as an example, however I must emphasise that this is just the start – there are still areas which need to be implemented, which we will need to work on with Mike over the next year or so to make golf an even safer environment for children to have fun and progress”
The Golf Union of Wales www.golfunionwales.org