A new child protection policy has been launched by golf’s governing bodies and is being heralded as a first and the way forward which other major sports are set to follow.
The initiative, which has been welcomed by Sports Minister Richard Caborn, is being spearheaded by The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) with the Golf Foundation, and has been developed with the help and guidance of the NSPCC.
Mr Caborn was quick to point out that it has been developed not because of any associated problems in golf but in response to an issue that has become part of modern society. He commented, “When the UK’s first centre for child protection in sport was launched at the end of October, sport took a giant step forward in the fight against child abuse. We all want sport to be an enjoyable and safe experience for our children, so I welcome this initiative and trust that other governing bodies will quickly follow in the footsteps of golf.”
Its launch coincides with the publication of 20,000 Children in Golf booklets, which are being distributed to clubs, organisations and anyone involved with junior golf and developing the grassroots of the game in January.
The development of the policy has won the support of the game’s most prominent figures including Sir Michael Bonallack OBE, President of the Golf Foundation who said, “The future of golf and its development lies with children at the grass roots level, and their progress is dependent on the support they receive from adults.
“In order that their potential and fulfilment from the sport can be maximised, it is essential that every adult with an influence in the game has a basic understanding of the emotional, physical and personal needs that contribute to a happy childhood.”
Colin Montgomerie MBE and Alison Nicholas MBE have also endorsed the initiative and believe that it will prompt other sports to follow suit.
The policy sets out guidelines for coaching, recognition of abuse and its effects, children’s needs and general welfare. It has taken over 12 months to develop. The working party contained representatives from all the respective Unions and Ladies Golf Associations of England, Scotland and Wales plus the Ladies’ Golf Union and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, as well as the Golf Foundation and the PGA. (The absence of the Irish Unions reflects a similar initiative they are involved with under the umbrella of the Irish Sports Council.)
Over the last year PGA professionals have been encouraged to sign up to a specialist distance learning programme in respect of the child protection policy. This comprises three modules, each of which contains a questionnaire that will be externally assessed. Because of the rising number of children entering the game, the PGA is ensuring all professionals working with youngsters are properly trained in this initiative.
The Professional Golfers’ Association www.pga.org.uk