Hot topic: Involving young people in mixed age sport activity
Sport plays a positive role in the lives of many people. As well as the obvious health benefits, participants can also gain important social and life skills. That is why it is important that everyone who provides sport does as much as possible to create and maintain an enjoyable and safe environment.
Touch is a sport promoted for all abilities and ages. It is therefore common for some adult teams to have several children / young people under the age of 18 years old play with them for experience and development.
The ETA have recently had many members inquire about a minimum player age for touch activity. Whilst there is no definitive answer to this, different sports make different decisions on mixed ages taking part in their sport.The key principles to be considered are to ensure;
- The young person has reached a level of maturity and skill which enable them to participate in a mixed age group safely
- Over 18 participants set a positive example to the younger members of the team
- The presence of more than one coach/volunteer/helper is available for the duration of the activity
- All individuals are aware of and comply with the organisation’s safeguarding policy and procedures and their own safeguarding role and responsibilities.
It is a question that is being asked more often particularly as we develop pathways for U18's to play Touch. Although many national governing bodies recommend players under 13 years of age play in a separate group, ultimately the decision is to be made by your organisation's committee.
In the interests of good practice, safeguarding and welfare the ETA request parental consent for all children/young people.
For more specific advice from the ETA please refer to key documents on our website:http://englandtouch.org.uk/wp/index.php/why-eta/policies-procedures/