London, 1 December 2017 – Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chair of British Rowing, has indicated that policies and frameworks are not enough on their own to improve the integrity of British sport. Speaking about the Duty of Care in Sport Review recommendations at ICSA: The Governance Institute’s inaugural sport governance conference last Friday, Ms Phelps stressed the importance of culture and the need to go beyond compliance.
While Ms Phelps has some doubts about whether ‘duty of care’ is the correct term and believes that additional agencies should not be created that will duplicate existing ones, she does concede that duty of care needs suitable resource and that properly trained professionals should be involved in safeguarding. She stressed the point that appropriate behaviours need to be instilled right from the start and that we need to invest in the professional development of coaches and national governing bodies. She also expressed the view that the stories that led to the Duty of Care recommendations should not be lost and that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport needs to be clear about expectations.
Ms Phelps comments:
‘Sport has been very focussed on compliance with the Code for the last year and now needs to properly look at how it will recruit and develop its future leaders within this new framework, giving them the experience they will need to take the sector into the new phase and empowering them to re-establish a set of values and expected behaviours that sit above the ‘legal’ requirements of the code.’
The importance of culture was reinforced by many other speakers. Joy Johnston, governance manager at Sport England, stressed that the real impact of UK Sport and Sport England’s sports governance code would be on culture and that cultural change would take time to effect. James Tickell, a partner at Campbell Tickell, noted that compliance with a code does not always equate to good governance. James Allen, Director of Policy, Governance & External Affairs at the Sport & Recreation Alliance, reinforced the point that while sports organisations tend to be good at compliance they need to go beyond that to deliver a change in culture.
Other themes discussed were:
‘The speed of change since the code came into effect has been remarkable, but care should be taken not to rush things so much that you lose the opportunity to build trust and ensure sustainable cultural change from grass roots to elite level,’ says Louise Thomson, Head of Policy (Not for Profit) at ICSA. ‘Ultimately, good governance can lead to sporting success whatever the level and we should be investing in people to drive cultural change right from the start.’
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