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Safeguarding Children



Every child or young person who plays or participates in football should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. This is the responsibility of every adult involved in football.

Durham County Schools' Football Association recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people by protecting them from physical, sexual or emotional harm and from neglect or bullying. It is determined to meet its obligations to ensure that those Associations and schools providing football opportunities for children and young people do so to the highest possible standard of care.

Every child or young person (defined as any person under the age of 18) who plays or participates in football should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. This is the responsibility of every adult involved in football. The DCSFA is committed to working to provide a safe environment for all children and young people to participate in the sport to the best of their abilities for as long as they choose to do so.

The Safeguarding Children Policy is supported by the FA’s Respect Programme to address verbal abuse and bullying of youngsters by Parents/Carers, spectators and coaches.


  • The child's welfare is, and must always be, the paramount consideration.
  • All children and young people have a right to be protected from abuse regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, faith or sexual orientation.
  • All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
  • Working in partnership with other organisations (*see below), children and young people and their Parents/Carers is essential.

DCSFA is committed to working in partnership with the ESFA, LEA, Police, Children’s Services Departments, Local Safeguarding Children's Boards (LSCB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) in accordance with their procedures. This is essential to enable these organisations to carry out their statutory duties to investigate concerns and protect all children and young people.

The DCSFA's Safeguarding Children Policy is in response to government legislation and guidance, developed to safeguard the welfare and development of children and young people.

*All affiliated associations / schools / colleges / academies will have their own Safeguarding Policy in place as it is recognised that in many instances the school/college/academy Safeguarding Lead will be the first point of contact in the event of an alleged incident. A close liaison with these colleagues is essential.

The name and contact details for the DCSFA's CWO will appear on all correspondence with Parents/Carers.

February 2021

Other DCSFA Safeguarding Documentation

Anti bullying Policy Child Protection Policy
Criteria for DCSFA Team Manager Photography Policy
Risk Assessment for Cup Finals Risk Assessment for County Matches
Trials: COVID 19 Risk Assessment Trials: Control Measures
Trials: Risk Assessment Trials: Team Selection Policy
Safeguarding Policy Social Media Statement
Social Media & Communicating to U18s Using Texts & Emails with U18s

Risk Assessments for Specific Venues

Downhill Hub, Sunderland
Washington Hub

Links to where other important Safeguarding and Child Welfare information can be found

Football Association: Safeguarding - Rules and Regulations
Football Association: Inclusion and Anti-discrimination
Durham FA: Safeguarding and Welfare
ESFA: Child Welfare
ESFA: Policies including Whistleblowing
NSPCC: The UK's children's charity
NSPCC: Child protection in Sport Unit


The FA have published new guidance for heading which can be viewed here.

The FA have also published a document relevant to heading for those involved with youth football. This can be viewed using this youth heading guidance link.


The FA has provided an update on "non-elite" football in advance of Step 4 of the Government's roadmap.

On Monday 19 July, England will move to Step 4 of its roadmap in easing COVID-19 restrictions.

This means that almost all legal restrictions of social contact will be removed. However, the Government is encouraging people to act with caution. Our guidance has therefore been updated to reflect this.

This updated guidance which covers Steps 3-6 of the National League System (NLS), Tiers 3-6 of the Women's Football Pyramid and grassroots football (including Regional NLS Feeder Leagues), comes into effect on Monday 19 July.

The full Step Four guidance document can be found here and the Safeguarding Risk Assessment Guidance here. However, the summary key points are:

1. On field adaptions for playing football are no longer required.
2. No limits of how many people can meet.
3. One metre plus rule removed.
4. The definition of close contact remains the same, however the rules on self-isolation will be changing from 16 August.
5. Face coverings no longer required by law, but recommended in crowded indoor settings and may be mandated by some clubs or facility providers.
6. Changing rooms can be used, however participants should use their own judgement and minimise use where possible to avoid close contact in a crowded area for a prolonged time.
7. No capacity limits for spectators but good practice is encouraged.
8. Hospitality is permitted without restrictions.
9. NHS Test and Trace QR codes not required by law but encouraged.
10. Free NHS lateral flow testing is available to clubs and we encourage clubs to take this up.
11. No domestic travel restrictions. Participants should continue to follow Government advice on international travel for any fixtures/ tournaments.

This guidance document applies to all youth and adult football and Futsal, including all formats of the game, both indoors and outdoors.

By observing Government guidance and the football-specific protocols, everyone can look forward to ensuring the transition back to enjoying football is as smooth and safe as possible.



The purpose of this guidance is to set out the steps that should be taken in the event of a thunderstorm to protect the safety of participants in grassroots football.

This document does not purport to provide guidance on thunderstorm safety outside the context of grassroots football. When assessing whether weather is unsafe and/or what to do, participants should always refer to the latest Met Office guidance: see and


This document applies to all participants in grassroots football and applies at all times and in respect of any relevant outdoor activity, including training and matches.


It is the responsibility of all participants to regularly check weather forecasts prior to a match and/or training.

It is the primary responsibility of the home team to consider possible contingency plans in the event of the weather becoming unsafe, e.g. could the activity take place in a safe indoor location?

It is the primary responsibility of the home team to consider whether there is an area where people could safely shelter in the event of unsafe weather (e.g. a safe indoor location)


It is the responsibility of the match official to determine whether a fixture should be postponed, cancelled or abandoned due to a thunderstorm. This decision should, where possible, be taken in consultation with the two teams and discussed prior to kick-off.

In the case of training or other relevant activities, it is the responsibility of the person with overall authority to organise and run the event to decide whether to postpone, cancel or abandon the session (e.g. the manager or coach).

When to postpone, cancel or abandon?

Where it is considered likely that the weather will make an event unsafe (e.g. through thunder and lightning, or extreme winds and rain), the activity should be postponed and/or cancelled.

If the weather becomes unsafe after an activity has begun, the activity should be postponed and/or abandoned and all participants should seek shelter (e.g. in a safe indoor location) until the weather has become safe.

Weather conditions must also be considered when participants are leaving an activity.

Where possible, decisions to postpone or cancel should be taken at the earliest opportunity so as to limit the impact on participants.

Any decision to postpone, cancel or abandon should be taken with the safety of participants being the top priority.

Consequences of postponement, cancellation and/or abandonment

In the event that a fixture is cancelled or abandoned due to a thunderstorm, the consequences of this shall be dealt with in accordance with the applicable competition rules.

In the event that a fixture or other activity is postponed and resumes upon the weather becoming safe, the match official and/or person with overall responsibility to organise and run the event should assess the safety of the pitch, as debris or rain may mean it is unplayable.


If someone is hit by lightning, call emergency services / 999.

Before approaching to help, please check that there is no further danger to yourself or the casualty.

It is safe to touch someone who has been struck by lightning and provide them with First Aid.

You may need to move them to a safer area out of the storm if lightning strike is still a risk.

Check to see if there are signs of life as soon as possible and if the person is not breathing normally, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), apply an automated external defibrillator as soon as possible and continue until help arrives.


This information does not purport to provide advice on health and safety issues and The FA accepts no liability in this regard.

Participants should at all times follow the applicable government guidance (see link above) to ensure their safety in the event of a thunderstorm.


All documents relevant for restarting and maintaining schools' football activity can be found on the ESFA website by using the following link. COVID-19 GUIDANCE

A summary of key points to consider from ESFA guidelines are listed for ease below:

  • Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend.
  • Associations, schools and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19.
  • Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches.
  • Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play.
  • Players and staff should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session.
  • Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play.
  • Football coaches and teachers are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training.
  • Goal celebrations should be avoided.
  • Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, teachers and coaches should only handle equipment in training.
  • Associations: Where possible, players, coaches and officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities must follow government advice on the use of indoor facilities. Schools should follow approved guidelines relating to changing facilities regarding PE lessons and inter-school matches
  • Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle. If mini-bus or coach travel is absolutely necessary, please follow advice contained within the guidance document below
  • Associations and schools should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace.


As with all public liability policies the protection is in relation the third-party claims following injuries sustained or property damage claims. For this type of claim to be successful the claimant's solicitor would need to prove the Association had acted negligently. All risk assessments would need to be completed before events take place. For any insurance cover to be effective all activities must be in line with current guidelines, and in adherence with current Social Distancing protocols.

ESFA Evidence of Insurance document can be viewed here.

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