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Girl’s welfare, safeguarding and the professionalisation of women’s youth football S&T79

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

This PhD study explores matters of safety and safeguarding in women’s youth football in the UK. The last year has seen prominent UK-wide debates about women’s safety in work, public, and digital spaces, and the safeguarding of girls in schools. Heightened awareness of the extent of abuse and harassment across UK institutions and in public life has given rise to national conversations about inequality, discrimination, violence, and overt and subtle forms of abuse faced by women and girls in these contexts. The role of sport and exercise is increasingly featured in these debates, mostly through calls for sport to “acknowledge its duty to address the issue of violence against women” (Telegraph, March 31, 2021). Sport, though, has been dogged with issues of safety and safeguarding, with non-recent child sexual abuse in youth boys’ football one of the highest profile cases of negligence (The Sheldon Report, 2021).

Football is the largest sport for women and girls in the UK. The professionalisation of women’s football in the UK has accelerated greatly in the past decade (Bowes and Culvin, 2021), yet questions of safeguarding in this newly professionalising domain are comparatively under-researched in relation to men’s youth football (Platts, 2009; Brackenridge, 2010; Platts and Smith, 2013). Such research is especially pressing given the speed of professionalisation in women’s football, and the issues that are beginning to be documented (Culvin, 2021), specifically around the inadequacy of gender-specific policy and practice. As the sport progresses, there has been more formal development of elite girl’s football, via Regional Talent Centres. With more girls engaged in football, and following pathways of excellence, there is a need to investigate the environment in which they operate from the perspective of child welfare and safeguarding.

The aims of this research are as follows:

  • Analyse education, policy and practice in child welfare and safeguarding at women’s youth football level in England.
  • Examine the experiences of child welfare and safeguarding in women’s youth football from the perspectives of both athletes and parents
  • Make recommendations to inform education, policy and practice in women’s youth football regarding child welfare and safeguarding.

Candidates with interests and experience in the sociologies of sport, gender, youth, and related areas, are encouraged to apply for this fully-funded PhD studentship. Interested candidates should Dr. Ali Bowes and/or Dr. Gavin Weedon with questions about the project and for guidance on preparing their application.

School strategic research priority

This project aligns with the University and the School of Science and Technology’s Health and Well-Being research theme through its focus on well-being, welfare and safety of young women and girls operating in football. More specifically within the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement research centre, which aims to investigate societal impact of sport and exercise for human performance, health and well-being, this project aligns with the Sport and Society Research Group’s commitment to social justice-oriented research.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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