Creating safer cultures in sport – Learning from lived experience

Last updated: 24 Nov 2021 Topics: Athlete wellbeing Elite athletes Duty of care

In this podcast episode we are joined by former professional footballer Paul Stewart. Paul shares his personal journey of the impact that childhood abuse has had on him and how he advocates for safer cultures within sports organisations and clubs.

We focus on the importance of prioritising safeguarding at all levels. Ensuring cubs and organisations have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in sport and activity and that these are communicated to everybody. 

In this episode the cover:

  • the wider impact of abuse
  • what sports clubs can do to help build a safe environment
  • the importance of safeguarding policies and procedures
  • listening to children and young athletes
  • how people with lived experience should be more involved with organisations and helping create safeguarding policies
  • knowing who to report a concern to

Looking after yourself

During this podcast we talk about childhood sexual abuse. This may be difficult to hear and, for some people, it may bring up distressing memories, thoughts or feelings.

Whilst it may not be easy to listen to, this episode includes important information to help all of us keep children safe in sport.

To look after yourself while you listen consider taking breaks, listening during a walk or before an activity you enjoy such as exercise or meeting a friend. 

You will find links to organisations that can provide emotional support below.

Can’t see the player? You can also listen to this episode on our Audioboom channel.


  • Paul Stephenson – CPSU Senior Consultant
  • Paul Stewart – former professional footballer

About Paul

Paul Stewart is a former Premiership and International footballer who played for some of the biggest clubs in English Football, including Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool.

Paul has lived experience of childhood sexual abuse by his football coach. Paul’s story was featured in BBC1’s “Football's Darkest Secret”, where he discussed openly and honestly about the impact abuse has had on his life. 

Since speaking about his experience, Paul now works to create safer spaces and cultures within sport for all children, young people, adults at risk and athletes. Paul works for the English Football League and Premier League to education and raise awareness with academy players, staff and volunteers.

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