Health and safety considerations for junior sports tours | Guest Post

A team’s first sports tour is one of the most exciting events in its young participants’ lives, especially if it involves foreign travel. The chance to experience different cultures, climates, scenery and surroundings with school friends/teammates, while playing children of a similar age at one of your favourite sports is a lifetime memory to be treasured forever. Just imagine staying in France, Germany or Spain for the first time, or perhaps even Sri Lanka or Barbados.

For the youngsters it’s a case of turning up at hotels, getting on a coach and travelling to the venue, playing their game of football, rugby, cricket or other sport, and then repeating the process. For the teachers and coaches there are many other concerns.

Health and Safety is paramount on a trip with 20 or 30 young people. They’ll be excited and boisterous about the journey, which means they might concentrate less. They may lark about and try to impress their mates and be susceptible to accidents. They may also miss their family and become upset, even if they’re only away for a few days, and may be faced with new food, weather and surroundings that worry them. And of course, injuries happen in sport.

Planning should begin early, starting by gaining numbers of potential participants. Once a provisional list is established the appropriate insurance should be arranged, which will vary - if any hazardous activities comprise part of the journey, insurance costs may rise. This could include skiing, mountain climbing or off-site events. Of course, if the event is organised through a company such as Dukes Sports Travel this will all be organised already.

A parental consent form will need to be completed and it’s vital to find out if any of the young people have any specific dietary requirements and/or medical conditions such as allergies, and that they have had any relevant vaccinations (if relevant). Make sure that the children have these items before they leave home, and arrange dietary requirements with the hotel early. A certified school medical officer should be part of the team, with an extensive first aid box including remedies for everything from headaches to travel sickness to insect bites.

There may be certain conditions for coach travel. Seatbelts should be worn on journeys if possible, and the responsibility of checking they are being worn will be yours if they are below a certain age. Remind youngsters that they should board and disembark all vehicles responsibly.

A fire drill should be carried out at the arrival of the club hotel(s) within 24 hours, with a possible evacuation talk from the hotelier. Pupils should be aware of specific dangers, what to do if they are approached by anyone outside the group, and emergency procedures. Youngsters might need to be accompanied at certain times such as when using lifts, depending on the youths’ ages. Should any accidents happen, record it in an accident report book.

As for the sports, the rules are really no different from playing at home. All safety equipment should be worn, players should be responsible, and a medical officer should be on hand.

These are just a few of the considerations when planning a junior sports tour.
There is one last thing to remember: The perfect teacher, group leader or coach on a school sports trip will keep things safe and responsible, but also just as importantly let the players have fun. 

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