Over 100 learners from the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma graduated in October. The Diploma aims to strengthen and professionalise safeguarding standards in football and was developed with experts including academics from The Open University.
OU staff from the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) celebrated the successes of the programme alongside this first group of learners, attending a FIFA Safeguarding Summit held at the home of FIFA in Zurich. The event kicked off with a graduation ceremony, featuring more than 100 learners from 70 Member Associations, six regional associations and two Confederations who have successfully completed the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma. The summit also involved the sharing of safeguarding best practices and lessons learned, including presentations from the graduates on the steps they had taken to make football a safer sport for children within their countries or regions, and featured powerful panel discussions and keynote speeches from survivors of abuse in sport.
Lina Aghajanian, Programme Manager in The Open University’s Global Development Team commented, “It was inspiring to witness the first ever group of FIFA Learners graduate and to hear their stories of implementing positive changes for the safety and wellbeing of children in football across their countries. Hearing from survivors of abuse served as a powerful reminder of the significance of our efforts and ongoing work in this crucial area.”
As part of the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma, learners completed five online FIFA Guardians courses, available in English, French and Spanish, featuring facilitated forums and assignments. A series of webinars addressing specific issues concerning safeguarding in football were delivered, as well as five-day residential workshops that helped learners share experiences and develop their professional networks.
Dr Alex Twitchen, Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching Practice and Learning at The Open University said, “We are delighted to hear of the impact that the learning programme is having on the FIFA learners. Our evaluation is showing that, as well as increased safeguarding knowledge, the learning experiences are having a real impact on practice and people’s confidence in their role.”
In addition to the successes with the FIFA Diploma, the open versions of the five courses, which are freely available on the OpenLearn Create platform, are having an impressive reach with 11,000 completions of the different component courses so far.
Find out more about the OU’s collaboration with FIFA and read the full news story from FIFA on the Safeguarding Summit.