Project CARE (Census of Athlete Rights Experiences) is a collaboration between the World Players Association and Loughborough University.
The World Players Association is the leading voice of organised players in the governance of world sport. It brings together 85,000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries. The success of the project hinges on participation from key global and national player associations.
LIKEWISE, CHILD ATHLETES ARE CHILDREN FIRST, ATHLETES SECOND.
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DR DANEL RHIND
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A fundamental issue that World Players aims to address is the fact that the internationally recognized human rights of athletes are currently not embedded in world sport. Child athletes are particularly vulnerable to this gap.
The lack of representative testimonies from athletes regarding how their rights were respected in sport as children and the associated impact on their performance, health and wellbeing.
PLAYERS ASSOCIATION TO CHAMPION THE DIGNITY
OF THE PLAYER AND THE HUMANITY OF THE SPORT.
the human rights of everyone involved in the delivery of sport must be protected, respected and, where needed, upheld.
the same must be true for the players.
the impact of sport must be positive, including in sporting, economic, environmental and cultural terms.
During the months of December 2019 – June 2020 an online questionnaire was shared with both currently active as well as former professional athletes affiliated with World Players in order to understand their childhood experiences in organized sport. The survey was made available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Japanese.
The questionnaire asked participants about their childhood experiences of the full range of rights as well as their current well-being. A total sample of 297 athletes completed the questionnaire and 13 in-depth individual interviews were conducted. In order to participate, respondents had to be a current or former professional athlete over the age of 18.
“I remember I broke my arm. Not in an athletic environment in my school. But my coach thought it was reasonable to tape up the arm, as it was a bent arm cast, and swim with it.”
“I told my coach about it (sexual harassment), nothing was done. You know, the Federation knew about this guy doing things, and nothing was done. So the story of my career was, nothing was done to correct for the injustices like this.”
“….my rights as a girl child were not protected. The national team environment was highly sexualized. They were all male coaches. That environment was very negative.”
“I feel very comfortable saying that he abused me mentally. Yeah, there was constant psychological manipulation.”
“You don't feel safe in an environment where you feel that you don't have agency. So I think I spent a lot of time feeling as though I didn't have any control over what happened to me in my life. I didn't have the ability to say no. I didn't have the ability to seek help from anyone, I felt very isolated.”
“I think that it's very important for us to have a Players Association…..I was really impressed with the collective bargaining and the rights and just the ability to speak and to have some impact on the athletes organizations, on the governing bodies, and that's really missing in my country.”
Female International Competitor
“Somebody has to be looking out for them, because they don’t have a voice… they don’t have any awareness of something that is impacting them, you know, or any way to change it, and they’re relying on other people to put the protections in place to make the environment safe.”
Everyone has a role to play to help embed these pillars throughout sport to ensure that the rights of all children are always respected: sports organisations, governments, civil society and trade unions, player associations, sponsors.
• World Players statement from Executive Director Brendan Schwab on safeguarding the rights of child athletes: Watch video
• Equal Times article by World Players Director of Sport and Human Rights, Gigi Alford: “Child athletes lose big on lagging rights in sport”
• World Players Declaration on Safeguarding the Rights of Child Athletes: Full text and Infographic
• Child Rights International Network guest article from Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies on need for more research on childhood experiences in sport: "Victims or winners: Why children’s rights should be the next big issue for sport"
Acknowledging the challenges in prioritising athlete welfare against medals and trophies, player associations are looking to establish policies, processes and support mechanisms to ensure survivors of abuse and harassment in sport have access to remedial justice and holistic supporting services.
“Am I saying and doing the right thing at the right time?”
The “Ready to Respond” Handbook aims at providing valuable, hands on guidance to player associations on how to exercise duty of care for athletes who are suffering effects of trauma and/or who disclose abuse or harassment in sport. While this is ultimately for the benefit of athletes, the resource is intended to be used by those who support their wellbeing.
which can be understood and summarized below as SAFER practice:
Support the athlete & Seek consultation
on due process, legal and mental health issues.
Affirm the athlete in coming forward to seek help.
Find out what practical and psychological
assistance the athlete requires.
Encourage the athlete to make use of all
Reach out for your own support.