Women and Sport: The ChangeMakers
Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE
Scholar | Sportswoman | Activist
Celia has been a child protection in sport advisor to a number of national organisations including the NSPCC, Sport England, and the Football Association. Celia initially faced significant resistance to her work in the area, but showed great tenacity, commitment and determination to develop necessary policy and practice to protect the welfare of children in sport.
In Celia's words
from the presentation Sex Offending in Sports: A Whole New Ball Game?
"One of the consequences of our national sporting obsession is our blindness to its faults. The world of sports, despite sometimes being descried as an international language, is a closed world with a closed culture. It is characterised by many assumptions about safety and by deeply-held beliefs about purity, truth and virtue. It is also a world in which the 'other' is readily ignored, whether this be women, racial minorities, disabled athletes or paedophiles. In the cosy world of sports, where physical perfection and spiritual cleanliness are aspired to and expected, it is thought impossible for sexual violations to occur from within."
Celia's advocacy and activism led to the establishment of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), and she acted as Chair of its Research Task Force from 2001-2008
Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport
In 2002 the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) developed the Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport. The standards provide a framework for all those involved in sport to help create a safe sporting environment for children and young people, and protect them from harm. The standards also seek to provide a benchmark to help those involved in sport make informed decisions, and to promote good practice and challenge practice that is harmful to children. As the Chair of the CPSU's Research Task Force, Celia acted as an advisor for the standards.
Myths about Abuse in Sport
A keynote address to the conference ‘How Safe is Your Sport’ held in Coventry on Feb 25th 2010, hosted by the Coventry Sports Foundation and the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit. Celia addressed some of the common myths that she encountered during her ‘20 year expedition through the foothills to the peaks of safeguarding’. Additionally, she discussed how research findings helped to challenge these myths and contribute to the ‘call for action’ in safeguarding in sport.
Sex offending in sports: A whole new ball game?
A presentation delivered to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers in the United States in 2003. Here, Celia gave an overview of the policy and prevention work that had developed in the UK, and explored some of the possible benefits that can be shared between the sport and treatment communities as a result of sex offending research and analysis in sports.
Sport England is the Sports Council for England, and one of the organisations Celia advised on the development of their safeguarding policy and practice.
The Football Association (FA)
Celia led the FA's Child Protection in Football Project, and consequently helped to develop safeguarding policies within the FA.
Appreciations of Celia
Sue Ravenlaw, Head of Equality and Safeguarding at the Football Association
Sue joined the Football Association (FA) in 2000 to implement child protection policies and is currently their Head of Equality and Safeguarding. It was through this work with the FA that she first met Celia. Prior to this role she worked for the National Coaching Foundation.
“Professor Celia Brackenridge is one of a kind. Celia’s commitment to and diligence in her work over the decades, challenging sex discrimination, sexual harassment and child abuse in sport, has been both visionary and outstanding. I was privileged to be one of a team of people at the FA who worked closely with Celia and her team, when my predecessor Tony Pickerin initiated a ground-breaking research programme with Celia in the early 2000s, culminating in 2007 with the publication of a book, ‘Child Welfare in Football’. I am filled with deep gratitude for Celia’s professionalism, her profound work and her friendship.”
Anne Tiivas, Director of the Child Protection Unit in Sport (CPSU)
Anne joined the NSPCC in 2008 and is Director of the Child Protection Unit in Sport (CPSU). Celia and Ann worked together in establishing the CPSU, and through Celia being Chair of the CPSU’s Research Task Force from 2001-2008.
“I first met Celia Brackenridge back in the early 2000’s. I have never known anybody who is as committed to ensuring the safety of young athletes in sport. Celia’s contribution to athlete wellbeing, both for young athletes and for older athletes, has been immeasurable. This is both in terms of her research contribution and her ability to work with and challenge others to make a difference to athletes’ experiences of sport. Without Celia’s contribution to athlete wellbeing I can honestly say that I don’t believe the Child Protection Unit would ever have been set up. She tirelessly campaigned for pioneering work to be done in this area.”