‘Help at Hand for Parents in ALL Sports’

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I have written on many occasions previously about the Football Parents Alliance (FPA) and its aims and objectives. The FPA was founded almost a year ago to give the parents of young footballers somewhere to go for impartial and informed advice regarding everything their child could encounter during their journey through the football academy system. The FPA have advised parents of children from ages 7 to 18 at clubs all over the country, from the Premier League down to grassroots football.

The FPA has directly assisted parents with regards to alleged bullying by coaches of players as young as eight years old. We have also supported one of the early members of the FPA whose son suffered verbal and emotional bullying whilst he was a full-time scholar at what would normally be considered one of the more reputable football academies in the country. The parent’s bravery and persistence in not allowing his concerns to be swept under the carpet resulted in action being taken to deal directly with the issue.

The growing reputation of the FPA has led to representations from parents and coaches in other sports besides football. They explained that the issues experienced by youngsters, and their parents, in a variety of sports are all very similar. Following meetings with key figures, and parents of youngsters who are involved in sports such as rugby, cricket, tennis, athletics, gymnastics, and even one parent whose daughter had been with a leading ballet school, the FPA decided to embrace all disciplines and the Sports Parents Association (SPA) was born. The SPA was formed last month as a not-for-profit organisation.

Last week, my co-founder of the SPA, Keith Trubshaw and I visited a leading football academy. We were invited to see first-hand the practices being implemented in order to benefit the journey through the academy. We were impressed by their forward thinking and their willingness to fully embrace the parents in the whole process.

A major stumbling block with most so-called ‘open door’ policies is that both parents and players are in fear of the consequences if they dare to question anything. However, this club have set up a confidential system which allows parents, players or anyone to anonymously report concerns, dangerous or risky behaviour that they feel is affecting them or other academy players. They also promise to respond to all reports within 12 hours.

This is an example of how the SPA supports good practice and has been set up to be of assistance to all concerned, with the well-being of the player our overriding concern. We are currently supporting parents and helping to mediate with clubs with the happiness of the young person our sole objective. Amongst our array of experts, we have leading parenting and communication specialists who are there to help everyone who has to relate to the youngster.

The Sports Parents Association exists because creating a lifetime of fun through sport is a serious business. If you think the SPA can help you or your club/organisation, or you can assist the SPA, contact the SPA.

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