IWA-Sport is committed to ensuring the safety of children, young people and adults involved in our services. In Para Powerlifting, Aileen Buckley is the Safeguarding Officer and spoke with IWA-Sport about her role for Women in Sport Wednesday.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Aileen Buckley and I’m the current Safeguarding Officer and Team Manager for Irish Para Powerlifting. I have been a volunteer with IWA-Sport for over 10 years. I have been involved with the Kingdom Wheelblasters in Kerry since they were founded, before moving into Para Powerlifting.

How did you become a safeguarding officer?

I have volunteered with IWA-Sport for over 10 years in various roles, mostly in the multi-sport and wheelchair basketball section. Through this I was very aware of the importance of the safeguarding role. I became involved with Para Powerlifting over 2 and a half years ago and when I was asked to be Safeguarding Officer I was only too delighted to accept.

What support does a Safeguarding Officer need from fellow volunteers?

I suppose the most important thing is that the volunteers are aware that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, we all play a role in ensuring that safeguarding is a priority within the sport.

What has working with young adults and people with disabilities taught you about yourself?

Lots, most importantly resilience, they all have it in abundance! I feel very lucky to work with such a great group.

Why is safeguarding everybody’s responsibility?

The safety and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone should have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of abuse. The duty to report safeguarding concerns lies with the person who has the concern, the reporting of the particular concern should be done without delay.

Head Coach Roy Guerin and Safeguarding Officer and Team Manager, Aileen Buckley look on as Irish Para Powerlifters train

What opportunities have you gained from being a safeguarding officer via IWA-Sport?

I have gotten to travel to various international competitions with the team, which is an absolute honour every time. Also and more importantly, as the section is relatively small (but growing!) I have built up a good relationship with all the team, they are a great bunch!

What three pieces of advice can you give to others to practice good safeguarding?

  1. Ensure policies are reviewed on a regular basis
  2. Volunteers are up to date with vetting etc.
  3. All athletes and volunteers are familiar with the safeguarding statement

Can you tell us what sort of challenges you could face as a safeguarding officer?

I have been very lucky so far that any challenges have been few and far between. Without repeating myself, the main challenge that could be faced is people not understanding/realising that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Are there differences in preparing as a safeguarding officer when attending a home competition, compared to an international competition?

Yes, when travelling to an international competition there is an element of the unknown. However, with lots of planning beforehand, policies & procedures up to date etc., travelling internationally has always run very smoothly.

How important is it to have female safeguarding officers in sport?

In my opinion having a female safeguarding officer in sport is important for promoting a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for female athletes. It helps ensure that all athletes feel heard, respected, and protected, which is fundamental for their well-being and performance.

Next for the Irish Para Powerlifting squad is the Para Powerlifting World Cup from June 20th to June 26th in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Learn more about Para Powerlifting and how to get involved here.

Safeguarding in Sport

Safeguarding in Sport

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