Safeguarding & Leadership Seminar

Date: 16 December 2022

Author: The Sports Governance Academy

A key responsibility for organisations at any level – perhaps the key responsibility – is the provision of a safe environment for everyone to enjoy sport.

Most of us can think of examples of where behaviour has fallen short of what ought to be expected across a range of different sports. Some of these are recent; others relate to actions taken years or even decades ago. The impact of this on survivors can be devastating and requires all sports organisations to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring that their processes and culture minimise the risks of unacceptable behaviour occurring, with robust and trusted responses in place where it does or where there are concerns that it is taking place. 

In 2016, Paul Stewart, a former Premiership footballer, waived his right to anonymity in order to speak about the physical and sexual abuse he endured at the hands of a youth coach as a 10 year old growing up and playing the game he loved in Manchester. A successful career, during which he played for Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Sunderland, scored in an FA Cup final and was capped by England, masked the lasting pain of his ordeal.

Paul’s decision – along with other former players – to share his experience of abuse helped to shed light on incidences of non-recent abuse in football, prompting others to come forward and revealing in the process the extent of the problem. The publicity led to an increase in information being passed by police forces and the NCPCC helpline to Operation Hydrant, the coordination hub for investigations regarding persons of public prominence and/or offences which took place within institutional settings.

By March 2018 2,807 reports and referrals relating to football clubs had been received by Hydrant, affecting an indicative 849 people across 340 clubs. 300 alleged suspects had been identified. 

Paul has since become a safeguarding advocate, using his story to help organisations to understand the impact of ordeals like his own and to raise awareness of safeguarding issues.

On 10 January 2023, Sport Resolutions, an independent dispute resolution service for sport, will be hosting a seminar on safeguarding leadership aimed at those in board or leadership roles, safeguarding leads and legal professionals involved in safeguarding proceedings.

During the seminar, Paul will speak about his experience as a survivor of abuse and provide insights into groomers’ behaviour in the hope of helping to protect children in future. He will be joined by Jennie Smith, barrister, member of the National Safeguarding Panel and founder of Safeguarding Today. Jennie will be identifying the key themes from recent reports into abuse in sport and the responsibilities of the decision makers in sport.

The seminar will provide attendees with knowledge to apply in their sports club or organisation, helping them to ensure their commitment to excellence in safeguarding. It identifies board and safeguarding management team responsibilities; recognises the legal, brand reputation and personal and financial impact of abuse.

The event will take place on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at the Sport Resolutions office, 1 Paternoster Lane, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 7BQ, between 13:30 and 15:30, followed by some time for networking. Drinks and snacks will be provided.


Register for the seminar here


Although in-person attendance is encouraged, Sport Resolutions provides a limited number of online tickets to those who are based outside London and/or the UK. If you meet this criteria please email them at to receive a 20% discount code.


Jennie Smith, Barrister
Criminal Barrister and Founder of Safeguarding Today, Jennie’s specialism has been child protection for the last 20 years, and sport safeguarding for the past four years. Jennie and her team work at NGB and Professional Club level, providing training, supervision and consultancy services. A recent winner in the North West Football Awards, Business and Professional Services Category, Safeguarding Today has placed Safeguarding at the heart of governance for sports, alongside Legal, IT, Finance and HR.

Paul Stewart, Former footballer
Paul Stewart is a former premiership footballer who played for Man City, Spurs and Liverpool, he was also capped 3 times for England. In 2016 Paul began to speak out about the physical and sexual abuse he endured at the hands of a youth coach as a 10yr old in Manchester. Paul has joined the EFL’s Life Skills team to raise awareness about the importance of Safeguarding. He has worked with the FA SFA and Premiership clubs delivering workshops to academy coaches/parents/players and his delivery whilst hard hitting also gives an insight into Safeguarding from a survivor's perspective.

For further information on organisations’ safeguarding and welfare obligations, visit the dedicated section of the SGA’s knowledge base.