Football Safety

What’s being done to keep your child safe in tackle football?

Flag football provides the perfect environment to introduce young athletes to the basic concepts, principles and skills required to play tackle football.  However, football is a contact sport and there is an understandable concern about injuries, once an athlete moves up from Flag to the Atom level.

Whether your child plays football on a VMFL team or with a few friends in the park, there are still injury risks.  Here are a few safeguards put in place to ensure that we minimize the risk of player injury in the league.

Equipment 

All the appropriate safety gear must be worn every time an athlete plays or practices. All tackle football players must wear: a helmet; pads for the shoulders, hips, tailbone, and knees; thigh guards; and a mouth guard with a keeper strap.  Coaches and equipment managers will ensure that players are properly fitted and that equipment is worn correctly.

Coaches Certification 

Coaches in the VMFL are required to complete certifying courses, including the “Making Head Way in Sport” OR “Making Head Way in Football” online course from Coach.ca, which focus on concussion prevention. The programs completed by our coaches teach safe tackling techniques, encourage safe play and help them to understand and minimize the injury risks faced by young players.

The “Concussion” Word – 

There is growing knowledge and understanding about the risk of concussion, as well as how to minimize the associated risks.  Football BC policy requires that any athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury is removed from play – “when in doubt, sit them out”.  This applies to both practices and games.

Further, once an athlete has been removed from play as a result of a suspected head injury or concussion, they must provide written clearance from a licensed medical doctor before returning to play.

You have an important role to play 

However, the most significant problems involving injury arise when players do not notify coaches or adults that they have been injured. It is important that you teach your child not to play through pain. If your child is injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor’s orders for recovery, and get the doctor’s OK before your child returns to play.

Hopefully, these and the other safeguards we put in place, will allow your child to enjoy years of fun on the football field, without significant injury.

Some statistics

The following statistics are from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Injury rates:

  • More than 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
  • Almost 50 percent of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.
  • More than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

Hockey accounts for almost half of all traumatic brain injuries among Canadian children and teens taking part in team sports, says a study, which also looks at how and why kids are getting hurt. Researchers found that hockey accounted for 44.3 per cent of all brain injuries, with almost 70 per cent of them occurring in children 11 and older as a result of player-to-player contact or being hit into the boards.  Soccer was second on the list, accounting for 19 per cent of those with a sports-related brain injury. Most of those injured were aged between 10 and 19, with the most common reason being struck by another player, a kick to the head, or a head-on-head collision.

Professional and amateur football as with many sports has changed dramatically in the recent years as to how everyone looks at the sport including practice on through to game day.  Many more steps are now taken and education of coaches and officials is at an all time high.  How practices are run, games are played and how rule changes have been implemented have all gone towards making football a much safer sport.