By Zaheer Mohamed
Player drops catch. Coach punches player. “Leave my field. You are a waste of space.” Fair or Abusive? “One little punch and some rough talk won’t do no harm.” Maybe, maybe not, but once or a pattern over time, it’s still abusive. Abuse is harm or the potential of harm, weather physical, emotional/psychological, sexual or neglect.
When a parent or guardian leaves their child/children in your care for an afternoon of cricket, they expect that their child/children will be safe for that period; failure by you to ensure that the parent or guardian expectations are met may result in serious consequences.
With the aim of imparting knowledge of child protection to coaches, players, managers and teachers, the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) has commenced its first of a series of child protection courses yesterday at its board room, Regent Road, Bourda. The programme which is a prerequisite to becoming a certified Cricket West Indies (CWI) Coach is being sponsored by UNICEF and CWI and is being held in collaboration with Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) and the Ministry of Education.
Yesterday’s course was attended by a number of players, coaches, managers and former players and was facilitated by GCB Territorial Development Officer former West Indies fast bowler Colin Stuart, Orette Francois Senior Probation and Social Service Officer CCPA and Nicholas Fraser head of Physical Education Department Ministry of Education Allied Arts Unit.
Speaking with Kaieteur Sport, Fraser said that the course is not only helpful to players and coaches but teachers as well. It has to do with anybody who has access or contact with children. “What we are trying to do is to outline the do’s and dont’s and acceptable an unacceptable behaviour from persons that are interacting with children. We are also going further to look at if there are any issues a coach may be able to identify and who they can turn to and where they can go.”
“Child protection is everybody’s business and when it comes to issues that may be happening in the home or schools the coaches may have a different view and a better relationship with athletes and there are some things the coach can report on so this is a very good way of working across the board and ensure the children are not abuse in any form,” he added.
Fraser said that there are systems in the schools welfare unit in central areas where they have officers in each region who would service a cluster of schools so there are persons who are looking at this.
He stated that there very supportive and hope to expand the programme adding that they are using its content for training in dormitory schools which includes child safety.
Cricket can have an enormous positive effect on children of all ages. It can increase confidence and self-esteem, and encourage personal development, both mentally and physically. There are several signs that may arise if a child may be abused or harmed. It is the responsibility of a coach to act if they notice any signs of child abuse which can be unexplained bruising or injuries, sudden changes in behaviour, something a child has said or a change in the child that is observed over a long period of time. As such it is important to report any incident of child abuse without delay and that the information is correct.
Stuart added that other courses will be held in Essequibo, Berbice and Upper Demerara. He stated that the aim of the course is to give persons who are working with children on a regular basis, a wild perspective of child protection including child care, management and how to handle reporting. “It is very interactive, it’s getting us to change the culture whereas in training, forms of punishment, for example dropping a catch or playing bad shot were allowed. so when we have an activity we have to ensure that that these things does not constitutes abuse and those who are working with children have a better idea of what abuse is and remove activities that may suggest abuse.”
Stuart who played six test matches and picked up 20 wickets at an average of 31.39 indicated that apart from Child Protection, other pre-requisites for becoming a coach are first aid and police clearance.
In an invited comment, Senior CWI selector Travis Dowlin pointed out that he is pleased with the programme. “It is very informative, I have learnt a lot especially when dealing with the younger players. Such courses are important not only for cricket for other sports as well as teachers and children.” Dowlin added that it’s a great initiative and will help to provide a safe environment adding that it augurs well for the game. He lauded the steps taken by the CWI and GCB.
Among the do’s are be accessible and receptive, listen carefully and reassure children that they have a right to tell while some of the dont’s are seek to disprove possible abuse, make promises to children, jump to conclusion, speculate, fail to pass information on to the child protection officer.
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