Paul Stewart: Survivor hopes course stops future sports abuse

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Paul Stewart
Image caption,
Paul Stewart said he hoped the free safeguarding course would help prevent abuse in sport in the future

A former Stoke City, Tottenham and England player said he hoped a new safeguarding course prevents children being sexually abused like he was.

He worked with an online training firm to put together a free course for sports coaches and parents to help them spot and report signs of abuse.

"What I want to do is make sure we learn from our past," Mr Stewart said.

The course, developed with High Speed Training, used his story and the former player said it has been difficult going back over what happened to him as a child.

But he added: "I think if I can save one child from going through the experience that I was subjected to then I do not mind reliving my story."

Media caption,

Paul Stewart: "It was such a taboo subject 40-odd years ago"

Mr Stewart waived his right to anonymity five years ago when a wave of historical child sexual abuse revelations were made by former players including Andy Woodward and Gary Cliffe.

The 57-year-old said he was abused by a coach, later named as Frank Roper, every day for four years up to the age of 15.

Roper, who worked as a scout in the north west of England and died in 2005, sexually abused young footballers while recruiting players to Blackpool's school of excellence.

Mr Stewart said he felt launching the course on Thursday was also important given the success on Sunday of England's women's team at Euro 2022.

He said the win should lead to an influx of girls wanting to take up football after being inspired at the weekend.

"What I want to do is make sure we learn from our past, we make sure they do this in a safe environment and they are protected," he said.

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