The Ontario Soccer Association will begin phasing in Respect in Sport (RIS) programming for Coaches and Match Officials in 2017.
The RIS Activity Leader Program is the risk management industry leading education and certification program for youth leaders to recognize, understand and respond to issues of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
The education campaign began back in April but there are still some lingering questions about what the program is about.
Wayne McNeil, the co-founder of the Respect Group, puts the program into simple terms.
"These great people, who are working with our kids, often come into the role with a little bit of trepidation," McNeil said. "(They) just need to be given tools to allow them to do a better job."
For McNeil, the safety of our children in sport is at the forefront of all their programming. The same can be said for match officials, who are part of the phase in for Respect in Sport education.
"We need to give coaches the tools to be able to address issues as they arise so that they understand, not just the physical well-being but the mental well-being," McNeil said. "So I think overall the impact is that you’re creating a very safe environment for kids to participate in soccer. To me, that should be the number one priority of any sporting organization."
Darlington Soccer Club has taken that approach to heart and is one of the leaders in our community when it comes to implementing Respect in Sport programming.
They recently moved their website and registration on to the SportsEngine platform and in addition, they're making Respect in Sport a requirement.
Kyle Elliott, the Darlington Club Administrator, said why it was important to them to be leaders on this front.
"It was important with our Club to follow through with this initiative as our regional governing body pitched this as a requirement for all Durham Region Club’s to implement," Elliott said. "We felt it was important to be on board and preach the importance as we are a strong supporter of the Ontario Soccer Association and overall believe in the direction they’re heading."
Elliott, who is a coach as well, understands the importance this programming can play in our communities.
"I personally feel that the information in the program is important and that providing a respectful and caring environment to players is my priority as an Administrator and Coach."
You can listen to the full interview with Wayne McNeil below.
Click here to read more about the phasing in of Respect in Sport for Coaches and Match Officials.