The FA has recognised the need for greater consistency in safeguarding across the game and this includes new measures to protect 16 and 17 year old players in open age football.  We know that there are around 40,000 registered 16 and 17 year old players in grassroots football in England.  Playing in open age football is a fantastic opportunity for young players to progress and be challenged both technically and physically, however club officials, managers and players must also recognise that these young players are still legally children.

Every affiliated football club that involves under 18s must ensure appropriate safeguards are in place. Everyone working with under 18s, whether in youth or open age football, is subject to the FA’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

What should clubs do?

1. Identify which teams have or are likely to have 16/17 year old players
2. Identify the coach/manager for each team (including any assistant coaches/managers) and ensure that they are listed on the Whole Game System
3. Ensure coaches complete an FA DBS check
4. Adopt and adhere to the FA’s Safeguarding Children Policy
5. Provide 16/17 year old players with safeguarding information, including the FA’s Know Your Rights document
6. Encourage club officials to complete the free FA online Safeguarding for All and Safeguarding Adults training


For further advice or support, please do not hesitate to contact the Safeguarding Team – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



All clubs with open age teams will be required to have a named Club Welfare Officer at the point of affiliation from 2023 – 2024 season onwards.

In any team where there are , or are likely to be 16 or 17 year old players, ALL  Coaches/Assistant Coaches, Managers/Assistant Managers. First Aiders and Physio's will require an in-date accepted DBS check showing on the Whole Game System. Even if there is only one 16/17 year old in the squad.

Players in open aged football do not need a DBS as they do not have a regulated role in football.

How should a club apply for a DBS check?  -  Contact your County FA they will guid you through the process.

What Must Clubs Do? -  1. Adopt the FA Club Safeguarding  Children Policy

                                                        2. Identify Coaches/Teams who are likely to have 16/17 year olds players and make sure that the coaches and managers have an in date FA DBS  and are listed on the WGS

                                                          3. Appoint a named Club Welfare Officer who has an in date FA DBS,  Completed a Safeguarding for committee members course,


Safeguarding online courses can be found

Useful Resources:


OpenAge Safeguarding Requirements matrix