The Sunday News
ONE of the key elements of the Caf African Schools Football championship, Cosafa qualifiers, to be staged in Zimbabwe from December 14-16, will be teaching the participating players life skills they can carry forward with them.
Many of the learners in the Under-15 age-group will be travelling outside of their country for the first time and taking in new experiences in an unfamiliar environment, which can be both exciting and daunting.
Looking after their best interests will be a Safeguarding Officer that is assigned to each team. This person will act as a focal point for all matters related to the well-being of the players and team delegation.
The individual should be a teacher, so someone who is well versed in handling the challenges faced by youngsters and will have completed the mandatory Fifa Guardians Safeguarding Essentials online course. The Safeguarding Officer will have four major responsibilities and will be among the most important people at the event.
Their key areas are: To act as the first point of contact and lead for all safeguarding matters within the team delegation during the African Schools Football Championship.
To take all reasonable steps to ensure that the students’ mental and physical well-being is prioritised.
To liaise with the Championship Safeguarding Manager and the Caf Event Safeguarding Manager should a concern or an allegation of harassment or abuse (be it psychological, physical, or sexual, or neglect) arise. To know the specific safeguarding measures for the African Schools Football Championship and the avenues available for reporting concerns’’.
All the boys and girls at the event will be taken through safeguarding activities at some point to not only provide them with information on the social impact of football, but also explain the measures that Caf have put in place to create a safe environment for the children.
Boys’ and Girls’ teams from 10 nations will descend on Gateway High School in Harare this week for the championship, where they will hope to qualify for the continental finals next year. The participating nations are Angola, Botswana,
Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and hosts Zimbabwe. The squads in the Boys’ tournament can contain up to 20 players and for the Girls’ 15.
Only students, who took part in the national phase are eligible to participate in the zonal and continental phase. Zimbabwe are the second hosts of the Cosafa edition of the Caf African Schools Football Championship. Malawi staged the tournament in the inaugural year in 2022.