Safeguarding and Welfare


Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Bedfordshire FA is responsible for the safeguarding welfare of children and vulnerable adults involved in grassroots football.

The FA has a three part approach to safeguarding children:

  • Getting the right people involved - carrying out references and Criminal Record Checks
  • Creating a safe environment – ensuring clubs have codes of conduct and use best practice
  • Promoting clear systems- to deal with concerns and reinforce FA policy and procedures

Bedfordshire FA works closely with The FA to ensure that all the relevant safeguarding children policies and procedures are being adopted by all our affiliated youth leagues and clubs to protect children and protect the interests of our clubs.

It is a mandatory requirement that all youth football clubs and leagues have an FA qualified Welfare Officer in place before they can affiliate to Bedfordshire FA.

View The FA's document - Keeping Football Safe and Enjoyable


Sarah DaCosta
Designated Safeguarding Officer

Phone: 07960 500723

Useful Information
Safeguarding children is everyone's responsibility. If you are worried about a child it is important that you report your concerns - no action is not an option.

If you are worried about a child then you need to report your concerns to the Club Welfare Officer. If the issue is one of poor practice they will either: Deal with the matter themselves or seek advice from the County FA Welfare Officer

If the concern is more serious - possible child abuse - where possible contact the County FA Welfare Officer, then immediately contact the Police or Children's Services. If the child needs immediate medical treatment take them to a hospital or call an ambulance and tell them this is a child protection concern. Let your Club Welfare Officer know what action you have taken.
If at any time you are not able to contact your Club Welfare Officer or the matter is serious then you can either:
  • Contact your County FA Welfare Officer directly on 07960 500723
  • Call The FA/NSPCC 24 hour Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000
  • Contact the Police or Children's Services
  • Reporting concerns to the County FA Welfare Officer
When an incident is reported directly to the County Welfare Officer, it will firstly be reviewed to decide whether there are any disciplinary issues, in line with the FA
Discipline procedure.
These matters will be discussed with our Discipline Department and dealt with by the Bedfordshire FA Discipline Committee. The referee will be asked to provide a report and statements will be collected from those involved.
If there are welfare concerns, there will still be involvement from the County Welfare Officer, even if a Club/Individual is charged by the Discipline Department. In this case, the County Welfare Officer will contact the CWO to discuss any safeguarding issues. The FA operates a confidential/anonymous reporting system when it comes to reporting abuse or poor practice but please note, any written allegations may be forwarded to the Club involved for their comments (names will be redacted to protect identity, if appropriate)
Where FA Disciplinary proceedings are not considered, the County Welfare Officer will contact the CWO of the club involved and discuss the incident and ask them to collect further information. If it is deemed to be poor practice, the County Welfare Officer will support the CWO to ensure club Codes of Conduct are followed and advise where necessary.
If the allegations are serious, the County Welfare Officer will contact the FA’s Case Management Team and may involve police/social services. All meetings or communications with external organisations must involve the County Welfare Officer and all serious matters should always be reported to the County FA. Important information will be shared with the CWO on a need to know basis.
It is not Bedfordshire FA policy for a Club or individual who raises a concern to be informed of the result of any discipline procedures and/or best practice outcomes that may arise from the allegations. If we proceed with any action against a Club or individual, it is a matter between the club/individual concerned and the County FA. Details of any action taken will not usually be divulged to any third parties (even if the third party concerned were the ones who raised the original concern). However, please be assured, Bedfordshire FA will act upon every concern we receive and will take action against those where we find there is a case to answer.

Football is about having fun, being with friends, making new ones, playing games, trying new skills and being part of a team, if you want. It should be fun to do all of these things - having fun is what is important.

Sometimes adults get it wrong and do things which hurt, frighten or worry children. It doesn't happen often in football, but it does happen.
If you are worried about the way an adult is behaving towards you, feel threatened or frightened, it's important you know who to tell and how to get help.
What you are experiencing might be child abuse.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is what happens when a person, or group of people, harm a child or young person under the age of 18. Often the adult - 'abuser' - knows the child well. Child abuse can happen anywhere. There are five types of child abuse:
  • Neglect - is not being looked after properly, not being fed enough or having warm clothes or a place to sleep or needing medication when you are ill and not getting it.
  • Physical abuse - is being hit, shaken, thrown, poisoned, burned or being given harmful drugs or alcohol
  • Sexual abuse - is being touched in a way that feels wrong, being forced or encouraged to have sex or made to touch an adult sexually even if you don't understand what is happening or being shown sexual films or pictures
  • Emotional abuse - is being bullied or threatened, not being loved but made to feel stupid and worthless.
  • Bullying - is being hit or kicked, called names, being left out, being threatened, having things stolen, being made to give someone money, being shouted and laughed at or being made to feel stupid/different. It can happen via text or social networking sites like Snapchat, Facebook or Whatsapp.
Abuse is never ok. It's not your fault and there are people who can help.
Who can help?
If you are being abused or have been in the past it's important to tell an adult you trust. This isn't easy but keeping quiet isn't the answer - you need someone to help. You might be worried about what might happen.

You could be worried about any of these things:
  • You may have been told to keep quiet, that no-one would believe you
  • You might have been threatened or they said they would hurt your family
  • You might have been told you would not be allowed to play football again
  • You might be worried because they are an important person in your club/football team and everyone looks up to them
  • You might be worried about what your mum and dad will think
  • You might feel guilty that you didn't stop it happening
  • You might think it will just stop

Keeping quiet isn't the answer
- by telling someone you can stop the abuse. Abuse is never ok. It's not your fault and there are people who can help.
Every youth club in Bedfordshire has a Club Welfare Officer (CWO) who has received special training and can help you. You should know them and how to contact them, if you don’t know who your CWO is, ask your coach or another adult.
If you want to speak to somebody at Bedfordshire FA, you can contact the Safeguarding and Inclusion Officer Sarah DaCosta on 07960 500723 Sarah is here to help you.
Know Your Rights
If you take part in football you have the right to have fun and stay safe. Your coaches are there to help you learn safely and enjoy football. This means respecting you as a person and as a player and:
  • Being a good role model - leading by example
  • Not speaking to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Not bullying you to make you do things
  • Treating you as an individual
  • Thinking about you and your team-mates and not just about winning or scoring goals
  • Making sure the pitch/playing area and equipment are safe for you to use
  • Having the right qualifications to coach
  • Making football fun!
Remember it's your right to enjoy your football - don't let anyone else spoil it. If you are worried about the way a coach, team manager, referee or anyone involved in football is behaving towards you, there are people you can talk to If your coach needs to have physical contact to correct a technique or your positioning, they need to explain this to you and check you are ok with this. If you are not comfortable with physical contact, you have the right to say no.
Getting Help
Tell an adult you trust as soon as possible. This could be your mum or dad or someone else in your family; an adult at your club; a teacher; your doctor or school nurse or school counsellor.

Think of who you trust and speak to them now; remember it needs to be an adult. Or call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. It’s free unless you use a mobile, available all day, every day and they have trained professionals who know what to do. If you have hearing difficulties you can use their textphone by calling 0800 056 0566. Your club has a Club Welfare Officer, they will also know what to do find out who they are and speak to them.
There are also lots of websites that give advice you might want to email them for advice.

ChildLine offers lots of ways you can contact them:
  • You can send an e-mail
  • Get support on the message boards
  • Send your questions to ‘Ask Sam’
  • Or remember you can call them on 0800 1111
Visit Kidscape for advice on:
  • Who gets bullied?
  • What can I do?
  • Who can I tell?
  • What if...?
  • Online safety/cyberbullying
Visit thinkuknow If you would like to know more about:
  • chat rooms
  • mobiles
  • cyber bullying
  • gaming
  • will I get into trouble?
  • customising your profile
  • uploading films clips
  • IM
  • sharing files
  • ‘sexting’
  • harassment
  • what can go wrong?
  • social networking
Then just visit thinkuknow they have a really cool site developed by children and young people that gives advice on all the types of things you want to know about.

There are specific sections for 5-7, 8-10 and 11-16-year-olds. As well as advice you can watch films, play games visit the TUK cyber café or get involved with one of their polls. Don’t just take our word for it – go and take a look…

Everybody who is regularly coaching or assisting in grassroots football in Bedfordshire FA must have an FA Criminal Record Check (CRC) Every club must list all their managers and coaches for each team in order to affiliate.

CRC (also known as DBS) replaced the previous CRB check system in early 2013. CRCs assess an individual’s criminal records history and allow The FA to make an informed decision on whether that person is suitable for a position working with children and vulnerable adults.

Clubs can now register for CRCs online by contacting GBG Online Disclosures on 0845 210 8080
Click on the link to find out more about CRCs from The FA website: The FA Criminal Record Checks

How to apply

You may have more than one role in football but you only need one CRC to cover all your roles in football. Choose the role in which you have the most frequent contact with U18s, from the table below:

Your role in Football Action to take 

Grassroots U18s coach, manager, first aider or any other Club based eligible role
>Speak to your Club Welfare Officer

Club Welfare Officer, Youth League Welfare Officer
>Speak to your County Welfare Officer

Referee, referee mentor, referee coach, referee assessor and referee tutor in U18 football
>Contact your County FA Referee Development Officer

Licensed Coach applicant
>Call 0845 210 8080 or email for advice

Working in a private soccer school or unaffiliated football
>You may not be able to get a FA enhanced CRC - Speak to your line manager or call 0845 210 8080 or email for advice

Working in a Premier League Club
>Contact the Children's Services Officer at your Club

Working in Football League Club
>Contact the Child Protection Officer or contact 0845 210 8080 or email for advice

Unsure what you should be doing
>Call 0845 210 8080 or email for advice


For affiliation with the FA, it is mandatory for all clubs with youth teams to have a named Club Welfare Officer who has:
  • An accepted FA Enhanced Criminal Record Check (within the last 3 years)
  • Completed the FA Safeguarding Children Workshop
  • Attended the FA Welfare Officer Workshop
  • Clubs with youth teams will not be able to affiliate with Bedfordshire FA unless they meet these criteria.
Criminal Record Checks
Everybody who is regularly coaching or assisting in grassroots football in Bedfordshire FA must have an FA Criminal Record Check (CRC) Every club must list all their managers and coaches for each team on the Whole Game System in order to affiliate.
CRC (also known as DBS) replaced the previous CRB check system in early 2013. CRCs assess an individual’s criminal records history and allow The FA to make an informed decision on whether that person is suitable for a position working with children and vulnerable adults.
Club Welfare Officers are responsible for ensuring their managers and coaches have an accepted FA CRC and completing the online verification process. Clubs should be registered for online checks and the following videos will help CWOs manage the process:
If you are concerned about your child or another child in your club, you should usually contact your Club Welfare Officer (CWO) in the first instance. You should be given the contact details of the CWO at the start of the season. If you do not know who your CWO is, speak to a coach in your club and ask for their details.

The CWO will usually deal with cases of poor practice and behaviour within your club. If you would prefer to speak to the County Welfare Officer, please email Sarah DaCosta.
All serious safeguarding concerns should be referred by the CWO to the County Welfare Officer who will liaise with The FA, Police and Social Services if appropriate.

The Welfare Officers Workshop (WOW) is a 3 hour workshop and is mandatory for anyone taking on the role of Welfare Officer for their grassroots club or league.
This workshop builds on the Safeguarding Children Workshop providing welfare officers with the specifics of their role; what will be required of them, where to go for professional support and guidance and how to access more information. It provides the key tools to carry out the welfare officer role.

Information Pack
The FA has produced a Welfare Information Pack which provides Club Welfare Officers with essential information needed to carry out their duties during the season, along with links to more detailed information and guidance hosted on The
Sections include:
Safeguarding policy, procedures & regulations
Best Practice Guidance
Enhanced CRB Checks
The Online Safeguarding Service
Safeguarding Children Education

Sarah DaCosta is the County Welfare Officer for Bedfordshire FA. Sarah is keen to help clubs on all welfare issues and is happy to attend club and/or league meetings to ensure the safeguarding message gets across.

 As part of its National Game Strategy, The FA is keen to eliminate abuse and poor practice. Safeguarding children is about doing things the right way. It's about allowing children and young people to enjoy the game without fear of abuse of any kind. That means bullying, physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect. 
Following The FA’s best practice guidance will help to ensure a safe and aware club/league. For more information, download the Resource Documents below.
Advice and Information
Social Media Guidance
Football uses the internet to communicate to coaches, referees, medics, welfare officers, young leaders, players, parents/carers and fans.  This reliance on online communication is also central to children all over the UK, bringing about many benefits and opportunities.

However, this also opens up new risks and challenges.  That’s why The FA and Bedfordshire FA have teamed up with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

The CEOP Centre aims to educate children, young people, their parents, carers and fans to understand the risks they may face online and what they can do to empower themselves to stay safe. Thinkuknow is an excellent education programme developed by the CEOP Centre, which delivers online safety messages to young people, their parents and the public.

Safeguarding for Committee Members

This free online course is written for Secretaries, Chairmen, Treasures and Club Welfare Officers in clubs with under 18 teams.

The course explores the key safeguarding building blocks in clubs such as effective committees, safer recruitment, building safe environments and recognising and reporting addresses whistleblowing and stresses how important the committee is in supporting the Club Welfare Officer to embed safeguarding.

In order for clubs in steps 1-7, WPL and grass roots to have affiliation awarded for the season 2017-2018 it will be a requirement that Secretaries, Chairmen and Club Welfare Officers have completed this course.

Please note: even if a person holds more than one role they only need take the course once.

To access this course please click here and follow the guidance provided.

Online Safeguarding Children Re-certification

The FA recommends that everyone working with under 18s obtains a fresh Safeguarding Children every three years. FA Licensed Coaches Club members and coaches working in under 18s teams in Charter Standard clubs are required to do this.

Re-certification can be done by completing the new, free online course which can be taken in the learner’s own time, at their own pace or by re-attending a safeguarding children workshop.

Launched in autumn 2016 the new online course is available to anyone who has an existing Safeguarding Children Workshop qualification or re-certification that is over two years old.

It includes material on safer practice with under 18s, safer use of social media, safeguarding disabled children, listening to children, recognising and responding to poor practice and abuse and how and when to report safeguarding concerns. 

To take this course please CLICK HERE


Candidates will learn how to recognise signs and symptoms of abuse, and understand fears involved in these concerns. It is valid for 3 years. Candidates must be at least 16 years old.
The SCW may be renewed online without attending the classroom workshop. In order to do this, you must have completed a face-to-face, three-hour FA Safeguarding Children Workshop in order to be eligible for this FA Online Safeguarding Children Re-Certification course. Instruction on how to do this can be found by following the link below.
To book these courses online head to Bedfordshire FA Course Bookings