During an official ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, Martina Coxova, Manager for Safeguarding and Operations at the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF), recently received the International Safeguarding Officer in Sport Certificate. The Certificate was launched last year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as part of its ongoing efforts to promote athletes’ safety.
Between September 2021 and April 2022 Martina participated in seven different modules related to different important aspects of safeguarding and successfully completed two assignments as well as a final exam.
GEF Council member HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, who is also a member of the IOC Executive Board and Chair of the IOC Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport Working Group, said about the course:
“It is an absolute necessity that everyone involved in sport understands the critical importance of safeguarding athletes. The IOC, particularly over the past five years, has led the way in terms of educating stakeholders on the required expertise and mechanisms for the prevention of harassment and abuse in sport. The International Safeguarding Officer in Sport Certificate is a key development in this effort, and I encourage everyone working in the field of safeguarding, integrity or athlete welfare across the Olympic Movement to undertake this essential course or other similar courses.”
Martina, a lawyer by profession, started to work in safeguarding in sport in early 2020 when taking up her role with the Foundation.
“I have always been passionate about helping people, so safeguarding felt like a natural next step where I could combine my passion with my professional training, experience and interests”.
The course was taught entirely virtually and at the end of each module, the programme directors and the instructors from the module would hold virtual discussion sessions where students could raise questions and dive deeper into key topics.
Asked about her motivation to participate in the course, Martina said:
“Having completed child protection training and the Designated Safeguarding Officer Training Course with the NSPCC earlier in 2021, I was very excited when the opportunity arose to take the IOC Safeguarding Certification course as it was tailored specifically to sports. The IOC programme was comprehensive and covered a broad scope of safeguarding topics addressing the specifics of sports.”
Areas addressed included the implementation of safeguarding frameworks, key building blocks for preventing non-accidental violence, developing organisational safeguarding policies and procedures but also safeguarding at major sports events, safeguarding advice and support, and the role of safeguarding officers.
“It was also very appealing that the programme had a global coverage with both the instructors and the participants coming from all regions of the world.”
The lectures in each of the seven modules were taught by leading experts in the field of safeguarding and safe sport, with a variety of backgrounds. Some came from academia, but many represented diverse sport bodies and organisations, providing for many different and interesting perspectives. In addition, active or retired athletes and/or survivors took the floor at the end of each module to share their stories and views.
Martina was quick in transferring the lessons learnt into her daily work:
“In my role at the Foundation I work with safeguarding cases on a daily basis. It is invaluable to be able to apply in practice each day the theories and examples I learned in the course.”
Martina was most inspired by being taught by the leading specialists in safeguarding and realizing that safeguarding is a challenge for each and everyone. She said:
“The course provided me with the tools and the training to deal with complicated safeguarding cases and risks. It gave me the confidence to tackle challenging issues while at the same time reminding me constantly what is at the heart and core of safe sport. Listening to survivors and athletes who were extremely brave to share their personal stories truly inspired me and keeps motivating me in my work every day. Safeguarding is a long and sometimes lonely journey but knowing that there are others also walking that same path is very reassuring and encouraging. I am very grateful that I was accepted in the first year that the programme was offered.”
The second edition of the course has just kicked off this month.
Learn more here: IOC Certificate: Safeguarding Officer in Sport - sportsoracle