Integrity in Relationships
Adults interacting with young children in sport should do so with integrity and respect for the child. There is a danger that sporting contexts can be used to exploit or undermine children. All adult actions in sport should be guided by what is best for the child and in the context of quality, equality and an open working relationship. Verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable within sport.
All children’s sport should be conducted in an atmosphere of fair play.
Ireland has contributed, and is committed, to the European Code of Sports Ethics, which defines fair play as “much more than playing within the rules”. It incorporates the concepts of friendship, respect for others and always playing with the right spirit.
Fair play is defined as a way of thinking, not just behaving. It incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of opportunities for excessive commercialisation and corruption. (European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics, Council of Europe 1993).
Quality, Atmosphere and Ethos
Children’s sport should be conducted in a safe, positive and encouraging atmosphere.
A child centred ethos will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place.
Leaders in children’s sport should strive to create a positive environment for the children in their care. They have an overall responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure that positive and healthy experiences are provided.
All children should be treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of age, ability, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion.
Children with disability should be involved in sports activities in an integrated way, thus allowing them to participate to their potential alongside other children.
A balanced approach to competition can make a significant contribution to the development of young people, while at the same time providing fun, enjoyment and satisfaction.Often however, competitive demands are placed on children too early, which can result in excessive levels of pressure being put on them. This can contribute to a high level of drop out from sport.
Leaders should aim to put the welfare of the child first and competitive standards second. A child-centred approach will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place.