Looking after our Junior players by Gerry Connaughton, when he was National Children’s Officer for Irish Squash.
Munster Squash hopes that all clubs would consider appointing a Club Children’s Officer. This person would provide a great resource to your club for recruiting new Junior Members. The primary role of the job is to create a child-
centred ethos at your club. This would make it the kind of club that juniors would want to join.
I urge you to bring the role to your committee and see if they would be open to creating a new position on the committee of a Club Children’s Officer. Also, funding is available for development purposes through your local sports partnership. This funding is conditional on having a Club Children’s Officer active in your club. The role is outlined in paragraph 2.8 of the Irish Sports Council’s Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport and is reprinted below.
Extracts from Irish Sports Council Code:
2.8 CHILDREN’S OFFICERS
The appointment of Children’s Officers in Governing Bodies and sports clubs/organisations is an essential element in the creation of a quality atmosphere. They act as a resource with regard to children’s issues. In summary Children’s Officers should review current policies in relation to young people, check that all activities are safe and fun, and inform adults of how to deal with any concerns that may arise in relation to the protection of young people.
2.8.2 CLUB CHILDREN’S OFFICER
Club Children’s Officers should be child centred in focus and have as the primary aim the establishment of a child centred ethos within the club. S/he is the link between the children and the adults in the club. S/he also takes responsibility for monitoring and reporting to the Club Management Committee on how club policy impacts on young people and Sports Leaders.
The Children’s Officer should be a member of or have access to, the Club Management Committee and should be introduced to the young people in an appropriate forum. The Children’s Officer should have the following role:
- To promote awareness of the code within the club, among young members and their parents/guardians. This could be achieved by:-
the production / distribution of information leaflets, the establishment of children’s/age- group specific notice boards, regular information meetings for the young people and their parents/guardians
- To influence policy and practice within the club in order to prioritise children’s needs
- Establish contact with the National Children’s Officer at governing body level.
- To ensure that children know how to make concerns known to appropriate adults or agencies. Further information is outlined in Section 5.12 in this Code
- To encourage the appropriate involvement of parents/guardians in the club activities
- To act as an advisory resource to Sports Leaders on best practice in children’s sport
- To report regularly to the Club Management Committee
- To monitor changes in membership and follow up any unusual dropout, absenteeism or club transfers by children or Sports Leaders
- To ensure that the children have a voice in the running of their club and ensure that there are steps young people can take to express concerns about their sports activities / experiences.
- Establish communication with other branches of the club, e.g. facilitate parent’s information sessions at the start of the season
- Keep records on each member on file, including junior members, their contact numbers and any special needs of the child that should be known to leaders
- Ensure each member signs an annual membership form that includes signing up to the code of conduct
- Ensure that the club rules and regulations include:-
- complaints, disciplinary and appeals procedures
- an anti-
- safety statement
- rules in relation to traveling with children
- supervision and recruitment of leaders
(Note: This may simply mean adopting the regulations set out in the governing body’s code for children’s sport)