With nearly fifty thousand children and young people playing in grassroots youth football in Lancashire, it is critical that we not only safeguard them but ensure their experience is consistently enjoyable and developmental.
Many of our clubs are constantly modernising ensuring that the needs of these players are always paramount in formulating policies and procedures. We are also blessed to have leagues who fully embrace and endorse a focus on enjoyment and equitable participation.
However, we are also aware that there remain clubs and individuals who are resistant to change and are still putting results, league tables, and adult egos before the welfare and happiness of children.
We believe the vast majority of parents and carers are primarily motivated by fairness and kindness when selecting clubs for their children. As such we want to make this important decision as easy as possible whilst clearly rewarding those clubs who have a modern outlook on the youth game.
We therefore propose to introduce a Child Friendly Kitemark (outside of Charter Standard) which clubs can earn by meeting a number of different standards. We would use our marketing and communications networks and website to list and actively promote those clubs and we will see what incentives might be available for compliance. As with any other standard it would not just need to be met, but to be maintained and hence there would be an audit process.
We have ideas about what we would like to include in this kitemark and we consulted those present at our June conference. However we would like the views of as many stakeholders as possible so we can make this new innovation aspirational to as many clubs as possible. Please be assured that we want to make this process more about ethos than meeting tough administrative standards as we realise the workload on clubs is already significant.
All secretaries and Club Welfare Officers will be sent a questionnaire over email to seek their views on what elements of youth football should be covered under the proposed kitemark.