As a growing body of evidence suggests that repeated “heading” the ball in soccer can leave lasting damage to athletes’ brains, U.S. Soccer has made several efforts to make the sport safer.
Last November, the organization made the bold recommendation that American youth soccer players under the age of 10 do not head the ball at all and that those up to 14 years old should not head in practice.
While these recommendations were unenforceable because it has no control over most youth soccer leagues, most groups have adopted the rules.
Now, U.S. Soccer has a released a concussion awareness video as part of the launch of its “Recognize to Recover” campaign. Recognize to Recover aims to educate players about the risks of concussions and how to play the sport without putting themselves in danger of long-term brain injury.
“The video’s purpose, and our goal,” said U.S. Soccer’s Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas, “is that all players that play the game of soccer – from the youth levels to our national teams, our pro leagues, the NCAA, high school associations, and every player that touches the game, as well as coaches, referees and parents – watch this video so that the lessons explained will become a part of the soccer culture in the United States.”
“We want players to make sure that they step forward if they’re concerned that they potentially have a concussion,” Chiampas continued. “We want them to seek care. We know that is a hurdle, but we want to make sure that coaches and referees understand some of the impacts and the symptoms that concussions can have, and that they understand their responsibility with this injury.”
Along with the video, U.S. Soccer haws also launched a website with educational resources for soccer coaches, players, and administrators. It includes information on player safety, injury prevention, and how to respond to head injuries on the field.
“Recognize to Recover is a key part of U.S. Soccer’s vision of creating a culture of safety around the game,” Chiampas said. “R2R’s goal is to become a destination for ‘best practices’ with regards to soccer safety in the United States for not only concussions, but all soccer injuries. We want to emphasize injury prevention and create a tremendous amount of awareness among players, coaches, parents and referees.”