On the 31st of March, 24/7 football travelled to the Deva Stadium in Chester to witness a groundbreaking game between the Offside trust XI and Hollyoaks XI. Although the Offside trust XI lost 7-2 on the day it was a monumental day for the charity and everyone involved.
Who are the Offside trust?
The Offside trust was set up in 2016 to help ex-footballers and other individuals within sport who were sexually abused as children. The trust was set up by former Crewe midfielder, Steve Walters, and former PGA professional, Chris Unsworth. The Offside trust was set up in December of 2016 after seven former professional players waived their right to anonymity to speak about their past abuse. The trust was set up in mind to provide a platform for other players who have suffered abuse to speak out and to make the world of sport a much safer place for children.
Child abuse in sport
In recent years, child abuse in football has become one of the biggest issues surrounding the beautiful game, tarnishing the reputation of the sport. In 2017 alone ,the Guardian reported that the police were investigating over 2000 child abuse cases in the UK. Furthermore, the NPCC ( National police chief council ) found 340 clubs had been impacted by investigations ranging from the top level of the game all the way down to amateur football in England. A truly staggering number that has stunned the football community, plus with the numbers of reported child abuse going up in the UK it leads to many asking, what is being done? This is where the Offside trust comes in.
What the Offside trust do
The Offside trust are an important organisation that offers ex and current footballers and other sports players the opportunity to discuss their abuse. The trust also allows survivors to be able to open up about their abuse and not feel alone in doing so with the full support of the trust behind them. The Offside trust is also fully committed to ending child abuse in sport and allowing children to enjoy the sport without the fear of abuse. The trust is also committed to working with governing bodies inside and out of the sport to ensure the best safeguarding practices are in place to ensure no further abuse can be committed.
The importance of the Offside trust
With the rise of cases in child abuse in both football and other sports the Offside trust and other similar bodies have never been so important with charities like the Offside trust offering vital support and a safe environment for victims of abuse to come forward and not to feel alone in their struggles. With Steve Walters the founder of the Offside trust describing in an interview with 24/7 football that the Offside trust is “like a family where we share our problems and experiences but are there to support one another.” The charity’s work cannot be underestimated as it has helped give victims, or survivors as the Offside trust likes to call them, a voice and a safe family-like place to discuss issues and hopefully to help survivors move on with their lives.
Although the Offside trust XI lost 7-2 to the Hollyoaks XI it was still a significant day for the trust, raising thousands of pounds, playing in front of a decent crowd, and having players such as Danny Murphy and Trevor Sinclair playing for the trust XI.
If you know someone or you yourself have been affected by abuse please reach out. Links to the Offside trust will be below plus the email to the Offside trust.
Also if you would like to donate to the Offside trust please click the link: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/theoffsidetrust
Finally, if you would like to see our full interview with Steve Walters clink the link :
Written by Tom Langford