KANSAS CITY, Mo. — United Soccer Coaches and the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) announced a new partnership Tuesday. The two will work together to develop new educational resources and training programs on the issues of sexual abuse and assault for more than 30,000 youth soccer coaches nationwide.
"We think it's really unique and will help our coaches both to protect themselves and protect their young athletes, so it's an exciting opportunity for us," said Lynn Brling-Manuel, Chief Executive Officer at United Soccer Coaches.
The partnership comes after MOCSA was awarded a grant by Raliance, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence in one generation, made possible through a commitment from the NFL.
“Sexual abuse and assault is a very important topic in the world of sports, and beyond, today,” said Berling-Manuel. “Safety is always our priority, and we are proud to have the opportunity to work together with MOCSA to ensure our coaches have access to the best resources and training to help protect themselves and the athletes they serve.”
Coincidentally, this announcement also falls on the heels of a new federal law (Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017) that was signed and immediately put into effect on Feb. 14.
"It's so timely right now when we're in the era of #MeToo and we've seen these national cases happen of sexual abuse. It's just so timely to be able to provide that information to this large coaching network," said Melanie Austin, Director of Education for MOCSA.
The new law requires coaches to report any suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours. Any individual who is required, but fails, to report suspected child abuse will now be subject to criminal penalties.
“This new legislation is certainly a great step in the right direction for elevating the conversation and holding more people accountable for protecting children and teenagers, however the resources and education are still critical to success,” said Austin. “I’m confident our partnership with United Soccer Coaches will make a significant impact on soccer coaches and the positive future of the sport as a whole.”
According to MOCSA, one in six women will be the victim of completed or attempted rape in her lifetime, and less than 20 percent of all rapes are reported.
"It can be so hard to believe that that person could be committing sexual abuse or assault," said Austin.
Moreover, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during childhood.
United Soccer Coaches plans to begin rolling out the new sexual abuse and assault resources and training programs together with MOCSA in April, which is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month.