Photo Credit: SIFF Media

Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) is taking a proactive approach to safeguarding during next week’s U-14 tournament taking place in Honiara. ( 13 – 18 August)

Making fundamental efforts towards keeping the game free of abuse, the SIFF Secretariat has endorsed a safeguarding theme called “Keep Children Safe in Football” for the tournament, aligning with the values of Safer Sport Day on today. (August 8)

SIFF is leading by example, achieving many milestones in the process as the U-14 Management has swiftly implemented a new safeguarding clause in their competition regulations.

This clause mandates that all referees, coaches, players, local organising committee members, and team officials must sign a comprehensive code of conduct, which explicitly includes commitments to safeguarding and ensuring freedom from abuse.

This measure aims to promote accountability and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the welfare of everyone involved in the game.

The implementation of Team Safeguarding Welfare Officers (TSWO) at the OFC U19’s Women’s Championship earlier this year has left a lasting impact and has provided the way forward for safeguarding in competitions.

Replicating the successful approach, the two TSWO’s for the Solomon Islands delegation at the U19 tournament have been appointed as the local safeguarding officials for the U-14 tournament in Honiara.

The two TSWO’s primary responsibility will be to brief teams on safeguarding measures, making them aware of the support available and reinforcing a zero-tolerance approach towards abuse.

The 2022 Solomon Power Iumi Play U-14 Championship, Photo Credit: SIFF Media 

To ensure effective implementation, Solomon Islands Social Responsibility Manager, Maria Rufina will deliver a dedicated orientation session to the local organising committee and emphasise the need and importance of such initiatives in the Solomon Islands.

“Safeguarding is very important for us because as a nation of around only 740,000 people, we have one of the highest rates of abuse toward women and girls,  most of these cases are not formally reported,” Rufina said.

Rufina adds that creating a lasting and impactful legacy will only be achieved through the support of everyone involved.

“It is our duty of care and everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe and provide a safe environment for the children to play or live in.  Children need to be safe both in and outside the field of play,”  Rufina said.

With an expected 87 signatures to be collected from the Umi Plei National U-14 Championship alone, the commitment to safeguarding will be visible and widespread throughout the event. Each signature represents a collective dedication to creating a safe, respectful, and nurturing environment for all participants, especially children.

In another crucial step, the venue for the U-14 Championship has been designated as a “Smoke-Free” Zone. This measure not only promotes a healthy environment but also reinforces the commitment to overall well-being and safety.

With the safeguarding policies of the upcoming U-14 tournament and OFC’s integration of safeguarding in referee training, and future competitions, the region is making commendable strides towards a lasting legacy for a safer Oceania.