Youth sports take a major hit

Concussions are becoming a popular topic of discussion in the Australian sporting world, with a call for more thorough assessment into an athlete’s condition after receiving the injury.

There are growing concerns towards young athletes who play soccer about their future mental health, due to the act of ‘heading’ the ball during games and training.

In 2015, the US Soccer Federation put in place a ban on ‘heading’ a football for those aged 10 and under, after a lawsuit was filed against them by parents and players regarding their children’s mental health

In 2020, Scotland followed America’s lead and has now put a ban on ‘heading’ for children aged 11 and under.

‘Heading’ in youth football has been banned in both America and Scotland. Photo: North Beach soccer club.

The injury can typically take an adult 10 to 14 days to recover from, however there are those who can suffer with persistent post-concussion symptoms, this may lead to a prolonged recovery or permanent damage.

One in five children will have experienced a concussion by the age of 10, 25 percent of those incidents being sport-related.

Post-Doctoral research fellow at the University of Newcastle, Andrew Gardner, says young people are more susceptible than adults to having a longer recovery time after receiving a concussion.

“With vulnerability to sustaining a concussion, the research is mixed. Some say younger athletes who are underdeveloped may be at great risk. In terms of slow to recover, children tend to take longer then adolescents and youth,” he says.

Infographic: Jennifer Gautier

Football player for the Women’s Baldivis soccer club, Megan Gamble says the ban on heading in America and Scotland is a smart idea and hopes to see it implemented in Australia.

“I think that’s a pretty good thing to be fair because at that age, getting a ball to the head can be fairly dangerous, especially when not done properly,” she says.

“I think that would be a good idea to reinforce over here, a lot of people would argue that they shouldn’t play, and all sports have risks, but really it would be a good safety measure.”

Currently in order to return to play after suffering a concussion in Australia, you must graduate the return to play program, which consists of six levels of assessment that goes through an athlete’s post-concussive symptoms, functional skills and coordination.