Victoria’s largest junior football league, the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) is investing resources into a Play Safe Campaign for its female footballers.
Noted for taking a lead in junior football, the SMJFL established several working parties in late 2022, focused on “Concussion and Injury Management”, “Female Football” and “Player Retention” all of whom emphasised the allocation time, energy and resources into giving it’s almost 11,000 participants, including more than 2000 female footballers, as a safe a sport as possible.
“The SMJFL is committed to providing a safe environment for female football and what our research has shown is investment in quality coaching and in quality training, providing the right environment and opportunity for all players to learn the sport safely is paramount,” said SMJFL CEO Matthew Brown.
On the back of recent media related to concussion concerns in female football, including a Sydney school recently removing Australian Rules football from its sport curriculum, Brown stated, “Concussions are risks in any sport. But if you have the right things in place, such as coaching, teaching the right technique, investing time into young girls to play the sport then we will create a positive and safe football environment, said Brown.
The SMJFL’s “Concussion and Injury Management” working party includes Dr. David Munro from the Melbourne Physiotherapy Concussion Clinic.
“Player wellbeing and safety is always of the highest priority when discussing the potential risks and effects of concussion in Australian football and should be led and informed by the latest high quality research findings,’’ said Dr. Munro.
“Currently, very little is known about concussion in children (< 8 years old) and only slightly more is known in adolescents (9-18 years old). Most research has been conducted in adults.”
Although females appear to report a higher incidence of concussion, it is unclear why this is the case.
“Several theories have been proposed such as newer skill acquisition, higher voluntary rates of reporting and less overall match and ‘real game’ experience compared to aged-matched males for example,” explained Dr. Munro.
“However, what is clear is properly informed education of players, officials and parents is key to reducing the risks surrounding concussion,”
“Rules and policy changes concerning matches and practice have repeatedly shown to be the most effective tools in concussion prevention,”
“Together with clear policies and strict protocols concerning return to play post-concussion, the SMJFL are confident they are implementing the most recent and evidence-based strategies to address the health and safety of their players, both within the boys and girls competition.”
With the support of AFL Victoria, the SMJFL has introduced dedicated coaching resources in Gab Suriano and Paul Jemmeson to support working directly with over 700 coaches across the SMJFL to provide this safe sport environment., with the first initiative, a Prep to Play program on 9 February, hosted at St. Kilda Football Club headquarters at RSEA Park, is the first foray into ensuring our footballers are best prepared to enjoy the game we love.
“We are committed to providing our participants, parents and coaches with the best support so everyone can love the game and participate in a safe way,” said Brown.
The SMJFL season kicks off on Sunday 23 April.
For further information, please contact:
General Manager – Football Operations
0411 499 907