[Moldova] All Children Must Feel Safe and Protected in Sports

  • [Moldova] All Children Must Feel Safe and Protected in Sports

Terre des hommes Moldova provided training on child protection systems and safeguarding policy in sports during a seminar for teachers, leaders, and coaches under the ‘Open Fun Football Schools’ (OFFS) project and ‘Sport - School – Police’ (SSP) project, organized by the Moldovan Football Federation and the General Police Inspectorate, between 31 July and 4 August 2019.

Terre des hommes trainers used game-based learning to engage participants in a simulation game., during which the participants tried to live on their own, understand how an attacked and unprotected child might feel in this situation, and determine what actions responsible adults should undertake to protect and ensure the safety of such children.

The training included aspects of child welfare, types of violence that children may be subjected to, neglect, and exploitation through work and child trafficking. Tdh specialists explained and highlighted the cross-sectoral cooperation mechanism for the identification, evaluation, referral, assistance and monitoring of child victims and potential victims of violence, neglect, exploitation and trafficking to which specialists working with children are required to appeal in cases of violence and abuse of children.

Children who are victims of violence present certain signs, called identification indicators, which can be observed both physically and psycho-behaviourally. When an adult, specialist and/or parent, observes these indicators in a child, he or she is required to notify the local guardianship authority, as stipulated by the instructions of the cross-sectoral cooperation mechanism. However, warns Cristina Triboi, child protection specialist at Tdh and ChildHub resource person, the presence of a single sign does not necessarily indicate that a child is a victim of violence. Nevertheless, when the signals appear repeatedly or in combination, they must seek the consultation of specialists to consider the possibility of a situation of violence, neglect, exploitation or trafficking of the child.

The Tdh trainers highlighted the difference between the child protection system and safeguarding policy in sports: "While child protection is about preventing and managing or reporting abuse, safeguarding policy is the responsibility of professional adults who work with children to provide them a safe and friendly environment, as well as a relationship with a trusted adult, which will support the safe growth and development of the child. Safeguarding in football, for instance, is the organizers’ responsibility to ensure that football is a fun and safe experience for all children, regardless of their abilities and performance level", explained Vlad Oleatovschi, child protection specialist at Tdh Moldova and ChildHub resource person.  

The training took place in the context of a collaboration agreement between Terre des hommes Moldova and the Moldovan Football Federation, whereby the two organizations aim to contribute to a more favourable climate for children, and better respect for their rights in sports. Svetlana Patraș, OFFS project assistant coordinator, explains the need of child protection in sports training for pedagogues from football schools: ‘Unfortunately, broadly, the coaches in our country have superficial knowledge of the legislation regarding child protection and safeguarding in sports - they know the basics, such as they are not allowed to shout at or hit a child, but they are not aware of more subtler and newer aspects to our culture, such as not being allowed to touch a child or enter the girls' locker room or have a private conversation with a child.’

The Open Fun Football Schools project is implemented in Moldova by the Cross Cultures organization from Denmark and the Moldovan Football Federation, with the support of the Government of Sweden, to promote football in all regions of the country. The Sport – School – Police Program aims to complement and improve initiatives and actions for children and youth that are carried out separately by the police, the school sector, and sport clubs.

The teachers who participated in OFFS Moldova and SSP trainings had the opportunity to test out their new knowledge and skills during a large cultural-sporting event, with 200 children in attendance.

Elena Madan, director of Terre des hommes Moldova, was present at the event and mentioned that the partnership with MFF is very important for Tdh, the largest Swiss organization for child protection, so they can promote the safety of children in sports and allow children to "feel as safe and secure as possible in any type of sport, including football. We wish for this partnership to be successful and sustainable.”

Terre des hommes is committed, worldwide, to protecting children against abuse of any kind. Tdh acknowledges that sport has the power to be a uniting force for good in society in ways little else can, especially for children. Starting from the premise that sport must be safe for children, Tdh has developed strong partnerships with sport organizations, such as UEFA, to raise the bar of child protection and sport. In this context, Tdh Moldova has signed, at the beginning of the year, a cooperation agreement with the Moldovan Football Federation, which aims to strengthen efforts to promote and protect the rights of children, respecting the fundamental rights of the child, preventing and fighting all forms of violence, neglect, exploitation and trafficking of children.