Playing it safe this weekend

This weekend marks football’s first ever national campaign across all professional and grass-roots leagues dedicated to the importance of safeguarding.

The Premier League and its clubs are joining The FA and other football stakeholders in this national safeguarding campaign.

The ‘Play Safe’ weekend will raise awareness of issues around safeguarding and of how everyone can play their part in ensuring football is a safe space for all.

It is set to become an annual event, and  Wolves/Wolves Foundation are taking the opportunity to highlight their own processes and procedures. 

The weekend also comes at the end of Safeguarding Adults Week for 2021, another initiative designed to raise awareness of important safeguarding issues. 

Wolves will be highlighting the initiative around today’s first-team fixture with West Ham at Molineux. 

The Wolves Disability adult teams run by the Foundation are in action over this ‘Play Safe’ weekend, travelling to Burton on Sunday to take on Burton, Stafford Town and Leek Town. 

“With the matches this weekend, as with all matches and training, we will be following the processes and procedures we have in place regarding safeguarding,” says inclusion and cohesion manager Luke Shearing. 

“Within the Foundation we have a code of conduct that all players, parents and staff abide by, and included within that is information about safeguarding and the relevant contact information for if it is needed. 

“Everyone knows that if they do have an issue they can come and report it confidentially to the coach and that it will then be passed on to the appropriate person. 

“Having these processes in place is something that has become normal to us as a Foundation and with the Disability team, whether that is the young players and their parents or adults at risk.

“The league that we play in also has a designated Safeguarding Officer so there are many different ways to address any issues which arise. 

“We have worked hard on creating a positive safeguarding culture over recent years and I would be confident in saying that if any of the players were asked what they needed to do in a certain situation, they would have all that information.” 

The Disability set-up within the Foundation, sponsored by Energy Angels, boasts teams at adult, under-16 and under-12 levels, and is proving extremely popular with numbers increasing all the time. 

“Our turnout for the sessions and matches at the moment is unbelievable,” adds inclusion lead Gavin Jones. 

“I think that shows that players and parents know they are coming to training sessions and matchdays in a safe environment where they can be comfortable. 

“The fact that they keep coming back and enjoy the experience so much shows that there are really good working relationships in place and everyone feels comfortable and knows the procedure is in place for any problem.” 

Darren James is one of the players involved with the Wolves Disability FC adults' team. 

“I really enjoy training and playing for Wolves Disability and feel comfortable and completely at home within the team,” he says. 

“There is a really supportive culture which safeguarding is a big part of and we all know how we should behave and what to do in the event of any issues.” 

Foundation senior manager (operations) Lee Smith has overall responsibility for safeguarding within Wolves Foundation, working closely with the club’s head of safeguarding Lisa Carter. 

The Play Safe campaign aims to make parents and guardians, as well as staff at all levels of the game, aware of how they can help protect the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and adults at risk.

It also provides children and young people with an understanding of the support available to them should they require it.