Safeguarding in Open Aged Football


The FA has confirmed a range of new requirements that must be met by open-aged clubs who register 16- and 17-year-old players to their teams. These are listed below:

All adult open age clubs to have a named Club Welfare Officer for the 2023/24 season

Eligible Club Welfare Officers must undertake a DBS check by season 2024/25, as well as a Player Welfare Course.

All eligible team officials must undertake a DBS check by season 2024/25, as well as a Player Welfare Course

Those clubs with an adult disability team must have a named Club Welfare Officer that holds an in-date Safeguarding Adults course by season 2023/24

Further background and information regarding these changes are detailed below:

Affiliated football holds with the principle that there are some roles within sport where adults have responsibility for, authority and influence over young people and therefore have an ethical obligation to safeguard and protect young people from exploitation. 

Whilst legally young people aged 16 and 17 have reached the age of consent for sexual activity, any inappropriate sexual relations with young people aged 16 or 17 will be considered a breach of a ‘Position of Trust’ within affiliated football and will be referred to the appropriate football regulatory authorities and may also be referred to the statutory agencies.

The child’s welfare is, and must always be the paramount consideration. The key principles of the FA’s Safeguarding Children Policy are as follows:

All children and young people have a right to be protected from abuse regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. 

All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.

Working in partnership with other organisations, children and young people and their parents and carers is essential.

Any open age adults’ teams that have one or more 16 or 17-year-old players will be required to have a coach with an in-date FA Accepted DBS in order to be compliant from season 2024/25.

Please see the table below for further clarification:

Clubs with under-18s in open-age adult teams (including disability teams) are required to:
1. Adopt and adhere to Affiliated Footballs Safeguarding Children Policy - here

To help The FA have created a Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures Club Template
2. Identify which of your teams have 16 and/or 17-year-old players

3. Identify any coaches/managers (including assistant coaches/managers) and medics for these teams and list them on The FA’s Whole Game System alongside their role within the team.

This can be done by the club secretary, assistant secretary or if the club has a youth team by the Club Welfare Officer (Youth Teams).

4. Support coaches/managers (including assistant coaches/managers) and medics working with 16 and/or 17-year-olds to complete an FA DBS Check - here

The FA has created some documents to support your recruitment and understanding of DBS checks.
Safer recruitment of volunteers
Eligibility of roles
5. Provide your 16 and 17-year-old players with the relevant safeguarding information - here

The FA has provided a document that allows young players to know their rights.
Know your rights in football

You can find a 'Safeguarding Children's Policy' template for your club/league at the foot of this page.


The FA have a wealth of best practice documents collectively explaining how to create a supportive, safe and fun environment for children and young people. Given the prevalence of social media use/misuse today, please refer to specific guidance on this subject.

The FA Best Practice Documents


Although it is not currently an affiliation requirement for ‘Open Aged’ football clubs to have a Club Welfare Officer in post we would highly recommend all ‘Open Aged’ football clubs that have 16 & 17-year-old players to have a safeguarding point of contact in the club. Ideally this individual would have the skills to be able to discuss any potential issues U18 players may be facing and to always accommodate U18’s in football activities. 

For example:

  • Changing Rooms
  • Overnight stays
  • Ensure appropriate language and content is used on all forms of communication such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat

Preferably this individual would be listed on the Whole Game System as the Club Welfare Officer.

If you have any questions or need any support, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the safeguarding team:

Middlesex FA’s Designated Safeguarding Officer – Rebecca Chapman - or 020 8515 6909 for any safeguarding queries or concerns.