How to make school sports safe and enjoyable for everyone


Daniel Goddard, Manager of Stadia Sports, discusses the importance of safety in sports for children at school. All children should be free to enjoy a high quality physical education, whether at school, or as part of a club or team.

It contributes to a healthy and active lifestyle, improves emotional well-being, and helps children to develop key skills such as leadership, confidence and communication.

There are governing bodies, such as UK sport, that aim to encourage as many children as possible to get involved in sporting activities. Their intention is to create a new generation of British athletes, one that’s capable of competing at a professional international level. 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"501","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft size-medium wp-image-9131","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"200","alt":"DSC_2515"}}]] However, these aims, as well intentioned as they are, need to be achieved within a safe and healthy environment. It’s necessary to identify the facilities and equipment in use within sporting activities and evaluate the potential risk to both participants and spectators.

To begin with, a thorough risk assessment should take place. Each risk assessment should identify the:

• Facilities, equipment and activities involved • Hazards associated with these facilities, equipment and activities • People directly or indirectly affected by these hazards • Levels of risk experienced by those people exposed to the hazards • Measures required to reduce the risks to acceptable levels

Taking part in sport offers great emotional, social and physical benefits for children. Nobody wants to be side-lined by an injury. Risk assessments can make school sports safe and enjoyable for everyone.

As teachers and coaches, there are simple things we can do to help reduce preventable injuries – so our kids can continue playing the games they love. It’s vital they wear the right gear, whether that’s shin pads, head guards or gum shields. You don't have to have the latest designer sports clothes, but you do need to think of your safety by having the correct gear. 

All-purpose trainers are okay for the majority of sports. But if you are running on grass or kicking a ball, [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"502","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-9130","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"200","alt":"DSC_2524"}}]]it would be a good idea to have the right trainer for the job – such as a trainerwhich has studs so that you don't slip. You do need to wear a mouth guard for certain contact sports such as rugby. For any sport that involves travelling on wheels, such as cycling, you’ll need a well-fitting helmet to protect the most important part of you, your head.

The suitability of equipment supplied for the children, should be assessed in order to determine whether it operates and complies with the applicable rules and standards. Where necessary, instructions or guidance should be supplied on how equipment should be correctly fitted and safely used, particularly for the inexperienced, who may use the equipment infrequently. 

Here are a few tips to help prevent school sporting injuries:

• Children should ALWAYS wear the correct safety gear and equipment • The playing field or court should be safe, and checked before use • Teams should be made up of children of similar size, skill level, and physical and emotional maturity • All children participating should be physically and mentally prepared • Children practicing a sport should be watched by an adult who enforces the safety rules • Children should get enough fluids before, during and after sports

But my number one piece of advice is that all equipment should, be inspected on a regular basis and subjected routine maintenance, and when necessary, it should be replaced.