The Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is mobilising the sporting industry across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean with the aim of developing Universal Standards on Youth Development and Child Protection in Sport.

Led by SIGA AMERICA, the initiative is being driven by a high-level task force consisting of subject matter specialists from a wide range of stakeholders, including sport, government and youth-serving organisations. SIGA is creating similar multi-stakeholder task forces with focus on Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. A wider consultation process is also envisaged to ensure the engagement of national and international law enforcement authorities, international institutions, parental organisations, young athletes, universities and other interested parties.

Leading organisations currently participating in SIGA’s Task Force include:

– Major League Baseball;

– President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (US);

– United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee;

– Laureus Foundation USA;

– George Washington University;

– National Fitness Foundation (US);

– US Center for Coaching Excellence;

– SHAPE America;

– US Center for SafeSport;

– USA Cycling;

– North America International Sport and Culture Association;

– National Center for Missing & Exploited Children;

– The Spirt of Trust (Canada);

– Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services; and

– Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, amongst others.

A complete list of the representatives from the Task Force is available here.

The SIGA Universal Standards will cover four key areas: recruitment, training, education and protection of children and young athletes in sport. In light of the current global Coronavirus pandemic, the topic of athletes’ health will also be foreseen in these new global standards.

Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of SIGA and Chairman and CEO of SIGA AMERICA, stressed:

“Everyone seems anxious to see sport returning to the pitches, courts and fields. When that happens, we must ensure that all children and young people can enjoy a healthy, safe and secure sporting environment, free from corruption, discrimination and physical, mental and emotional abuse. Young athletes are not ‘assets’; they are vulnerable human beings and need special safeguards”.

“Youth Sport, in the US and everywhere, is in urgent need of a robust set of standards that sports organisations, training academies, coaches and other key individuals involved in the youth development process must adhere to and comply with. This is an absolute priority for SIGA and our members”.

SIGA has already developed universally recognised standards on Good Governance, Financial Integrity and Sports Betting Integrity. Once completed, the standards will become part of SIGA’s Independent Rating and Verification System (SIRVS) in which sport organisations can evaluate how they perform against the standards with the independent assistance of the British Standards Institution (BSI), a world recognised organization helping people and organizations make excellence a habit.

This is the seventh in a set of thirty boosting measures and initiatives being announced and developed by SIGA as part of the Alliance’s new global campaign #SIGASTRIVES.

Statements from a few Task Force Members:

Katherine Anderson, Youth Protection Compliance Officer, Major League Baseball

“I believe it is our shared responsibility to create a safe and supportive environment for young athletes and to promote a lifelong engagement in sports. By sharing Major League Baseball’s policies and implementation strategies for our baseball and softball youth programming and collaborating with my respective colleagues on the Task Force, I believe we can make great strides in the creation of universal protection standards for youth sports organizations.”

Ju’Riese Colon, CEO, US Center for SafeSport:

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we have safety policies and practices in place to protect athletes. The U.S. Center for SafeSport applauds those teams, sports leagues, and organizations that continue to make athlete safety their top priority. Together, we can end abuse in sport.”

Kristen Dieffenbach, President, US Center for Coaching Excellence:

“Coaches are essential and influential at every level of sport, especially for youth and adolescent athletes. Coaches can have a positive impact on the quality of the experience, length of engagement, and the level of sport skill development. They are also responsible for creating safe environments and supporting the overall development of young players. Given the complexity and the importance of the youth sport coaching role, the USCCE believes that it is essential that sport leadership organizations follow best practice guidelines for sport coach preparation and hiring and that they provide standards based sport coaching education and on-going development support that are specific to the developmental needs of young athletes.”

Kelsey Erickson, SafeSport Director, USA Cycling:

“I’m honored to be part of this critical Task Force. Implementing and enforcing universal standards for Youth Protection in Sport is critical for ensuring that youth are provided with a safe and enjoyable sporting experience. Sport has a unique way of breaking down barriers, uniting diverse populations and bringing out the best in people; through these Standards, we hope to provide that opportunity for youth worldwide.”

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Associate Professor & Director, Sports Management Programs (BBA, MS & MBA), The George Washington University School of Business:

“Working on the Task Force has been an incredible experience with such a wide range of experts from youth to professional sports. The guidelines will be extremely helpful for small community youth sport programs to national sport governing bodies and leagues. The principles are applicable to all but we realize implementation will vary. Our goal is to ensure that everyone is aware of best practices and are encouraged to strive toward these standards.”

Clay Walker, Executive Director, US National Fitness Foundation:

“As the Official Charity of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, the National Fitness Foundation is tasked with generating public and private support for the new National Youth Sports Strategy public health policy. Serving as a member of SIGA’s Youth Development & Child Protection Task Force gives the Foundation the opportunity to enhance its public policy work by promoting standards and policies that improve the overall youth sports experience.”

SIGA STRIVES Measure 8 will be announced on Monday 6th April! Stay tuned.