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Safeguarding In Open-Age Adult Football

Safeguarding advice for open aged clubs with 16 AND 17-year-old players

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.

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

View section 1:
1.4 Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures Club Template
2. Identify which teams have 16 and/or 17 year old players

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

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


View section 3:
3.1 Safer recruitment of volunteers
3.5 Eligibility of roles
3.7 DBS FAQs 
5. Provide 16 and 17 year old players with safeguarding information


View section 7:
7.1 Know your rights in football

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

Best Practice Documents

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.

Please click Here to view the FA’s Best Practice Documents

Club Welfare Officer 

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
Over nights 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 using the contact details shown above.

Useful Documents 

Open-Age Adult Clubs with 16 and 17-year-old players - Clubs with Adult and Youth Teams

Club Safeguarding Children Policy for Adult Leagues

Club Safeguarding Children Policy for Youth Leagues

Know Your Rights in Football

Open-Age FAQs

Open-Age Adult Football Clubs Safeguarding Responsibilities (Clubs)


Harry Woodley
Football Safeguarding & Welfare Manager
Mobile: 07525237348
Email: or

Kate Milton
Football Safeguarding & Welfare Officer
Mobile: 07938489199
Email: or

(Available Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm)