Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6 November 2022 – World ParaVolley leads the way in strengthening integrity in the sport through safeguarding, by introducing it in the 2022 WPV Sitting Volleyball World Championships in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In September, WPV conducted a successful webinar that brought together 60 participants from all over the world to learn about the importance of safeguarding in sport and the responsibility to ensure that violence, abuse and harassment is not tolerated in the ParaVolley environment.
The International Federation takes this mission seriously and has underlined its commitment to the athletes, technical officials and the local organisers to put the system in place in its events.
In its premier event, the World Championships, WPV is rolling out the first steps of its safeguarding programme by appointing Lori Okimura as safeguarding officer, who could be the first contact for any safeguarding concerns. Okimura is a Trustee of Safe Sport International in the United Kingdom and known for her work in athlete safeguarding in the United States, including the recent launch of the Courage First Athlete Helpline (www.athletehelpline.org) launched by Child Help in October with support from the Foundation for Global Sports Development.
“As we return to live events, this is a very significant moment to prioritize athlete safety and the safety of World ParaVolley technical officials and volunteers by assigning a clear contact for them to report incidents of abuse or seek help privately if needed. We will proceed with a trauma-informed approach using tools available to us from around the world and educational courses that will enhance our ability to inform and train our ITOs. We will include the responsibility of Safeguarding Officer to our International Technical Official delegation. The work we are doing to implement a comprehensive safeguarding programme is starting at the Sitting Volleyball World Championships in Sarajevo where we will introduce the question in a survey of ‘What does Safeguarding mean to you’,” WPV Sport Director Lori Okimura said.
“We must continue to provide education and training for all in our community, and the new Safeguarding Integrity Commission established by the Board of Directors will work with affiliated organisations like Safe Sport International and others to bring as many shared resources as possible together to help guide the pathway.”
WPV Medical Director Louise Ashcroft underlined the objective of the newly formed Safeguarding Integrity Commission and the conduct of Survey on Safeguarding at the World Championships.
“Statistics and research tell us that over 75 per cent of those involved in sport will experience some kind of abuse. Therefore, the Commission aims to address this important issue strengthening information campaigns and introducing platforms for reporting and communications,” Ashcroft said.
“The main highlights of this initiative are: Being prepared to prevent, recognise the signs of abuse, grooming behaviours and support those who need assistance, Giving a voice by letting athletes and participants know there is a safe place to voice and speak out, Doing something to help before an incident happens to learn what to do when you see incidents of harassment, bullying, neglect and other abuses, Doing something to educate our members about recognising misconduct and how to assist those affected, and Supporting and Protecting thletes, ITOs, volunteers involved in our sport.
“The purpose of the survey is to gather information in order to develop and implement effective, relevant safeguarding plans, policies, procedures and practices across World ParaVolley.”