All national sports associations to have at least one safeguarding officer for athlete abuse by year end

All national sports associations to have at least one safeguarding officer for athlete abuse by year end

SINGAPORE – With the topic of athlete abuse making headlines recently, Sport Singapore (SportSG) is increasing efforts to protect them from such misconduct and harassment.

The national agency is aiming to have at least one trained safeguarding officer in each national sports association (NSA) by the end of this year, and double this number by the end of 2021.

The Safe Sport Commission was launched last year to look into preventive measures to safeguard athletes, coaches and other participants.

Nearly 100 safeguarding officers have been trained and of the 64 NSAs, less than 10 have yet to appoint a safeguarding officer.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua also addressed the need for coaches to adapt to the evolving landscape of sports in Tuesday’s (Oct 20) opening day of the 2020 CoachSG Virtual Conference organised by SportSG.

To help coaches with this, a SportSG-Education and Development (SportSG ED) portal developed by SportSG and Republic Polytechnic will be launched by the end of the year, Mr Chua said.

Through the portal, coaches can learn about sport science and new digital skills as well as access content from renowned coaching consultants and experts.

Mr Chua added: “As coaches, you need to be able to make sense of the evolving landscape of sports, learn from global best practices in coaching, and translate this into lessons that will shape the character, values and attitudes of those under your care.”

Last year, the release of Netflix documentary Athlete A on USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual assault of young athletes prompted many to come forward to share their own experiences of mental and physical ill treatment.

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Among them were former Singaporean figure skater Yu Shuran and ex-national gymnast Eileen Chai, who spoke out about their experiences while training in China.

Mr Chua highlighted Singapore Swimming Association executive director Edwin Ker’s experience as one of three safeguarding officers at the association and noted: “As part of this training programme, Edwin was taught how to identify the signs, practice responding to complaints of abuse, and gained insights into how to handle both parents and children.

“As a sports administrator and a parent of children involved in sports, the training has heightened Edwin’s awareness of the additional precautions required in ensuring safe sport, and how to communicate with his own children should they be unable to communicate clearly.”

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Besides training more safeguarding officers, SportSG will also launch online modules on safe sport as a part of its coach education courses by the end of this year.

The 2020 CoachSG conference runs until Oct 22. Other speakers include former swimmer and mixed martial arts fighter May Ooi and former national sprinter C. Kunalan.

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