Leader comment: Sport coaching needs bureacracy to keep up with it

MSPs have been told that the scheme by which volunteers are approved for coaching sports is not keeping up with demand
MSPs have been told that the scheme by which volunteers are approved for coaching sports is not keeping up with demand
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The fallout from the child sex abuse scandal in football has yet to fully play out, but one of the positive legacies achieved so far has been an increased scrutiny of the checks and procedures which vet adults taking part in the game.

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) certification scheme has been in operation in Scotland since 2011. Its aim is to ensure those people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to work with children or protected adults are not allowed to carry out regulated work with such vulnerable groups.

In theory, it is a fine initiative, but in practice the logistics involved in carrying out background checks on every individual inevitably leads to an administrative logjam.

The difficulties encountered by the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) is a case in point. MSPs were informed yesterday that some 949 of the association’s recruits have not yet been processed through the PVG scheme, managed through Disclosure Scotland.

David Little, the SYFA’s chief executive, observed that his organisation’s vast reach meant that it dealt with a huge number of volunteers. The SYFA runs no less than 39 leagues and coaches around 60,000 registered players; in order to keep that system running, it must call on a pool of around 15,000 volunteers, where turnover is high.

“We have a churn of anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent of our members on a yearly basis, which causes great difficulties,” Mr Little said. Parents and guardians should not be unduly concerned by the failure to vet so many individuals, but the issue is indicative of a wider bureaucratic crisis in the PVG model which requires addressing.