NSW research investigates heading in junior football

A local academic based in NSW has conducted world-first research in finding out what impact that heading in the game has for young players.

Dr Kerry Peek has found that using a lighter ball will be beneficial for improving heading technique, with a lower risk of head and neck injuries – where she is highly regarded in aiming to reduce this.

Peek is a senior lecturer in physiotherepy at the University of Sydney and has worked with elite athletes in football, rugby union and Formula 1 in both the UK and Australia.

Additionally, she was invited to present to the UEFA Medical Committee about the drafting of heading guidelines released in May 2020, as well as presentations on heading for the International Olympic Committee World Conference related to the Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport next year.

Peek leads the research on various scientific papers on heading, which has received support funding from both FIFA and Sports Medicine Australia. The latest research has centred around ball characteristics and the use of a neck strengthening exercise program to reduce head acceleration of heading by youth players. It’s recommended from the research that using light balls (or those with less pressure) should be included in training when heading is completed.

Peek recommends a series of relevant neck exercises that would take less than two minutes to do for young players, all without additional equipment.

“Whilst heading remains an integral part of football, our goal is to make it as safe as possible for all players, regardless of age, experience or playing level,” Peek said to Football NSW.

“We hope that by engaging with players, coaches and clubs we can implement a number of low risk strategies which will potentially benefit millions of players worldwide.

“These strategies include adding neck exercises to current injury reduction exercise programs (such as the FIFA 11+ and FIFA 11+ kids) as well as teaching good heading technique using a lighter ball.

“I wish to thank Peter Hugg and Football NSW for their ongoing support.”

Hugg, Football NSW’s Head of Football, applauded Peek and her team on their efforts to assess ways of making the game safer with important research, with the collaborative approach taken throughout both study and ongoing work.

“To have a well renown University and an internationally recognized researcher in Kerry and her team of students, coaches, neuropsychologists, biomechanist, a representative from the ball industry and the sport itself at Member Federation, Association and Club level, come together and collaborate is testimony to what is possible when we work towards a common objective,” Hugg said.

“The fact that it is about increasing player safety and minimising the risk of injury in the game is even more pleasing.”

Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Dandenong Thunder to enjoy $700,000 LED lighting upgrade at George Andrews Reserve

Dandenong Thunder lighting upgrade

Greater Dandenong Council and Dandenong Thunder have recently confirmed that works have commenced for new powerful lighting towers to be built at George Andrews Reserve.

The upgrade will cost $700,000 and is being jointly funded by Greater Dandenong Council ($500,000) and the State Government ($200,000) with a plan to improve the ground’s overall quality for both training and matches. They formerly had 200-lux LED towers and they will be replaced by 500-lux towers.

For the Greater Dandenong local council, the focus was to improve the facility for the community to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits through the increased amount of playable hours at the reserve.

Importantly, the project ensures that the Thunder have a ground that is up to professional competition and broadcast standards which means they can broadcast and host games that are viewed by a national audience, a huge step forward for the NPL Victoria club.

This broadcast upgrade also opens up the possibility to expand to national matches involving the Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City A-League women’s teams and an even more ambitious goal of hosting a Matildas game. The ground can easily hold 5000 people and the lighting and broadcasting standards will be fantastic after this upgrade.

Dandenong Thunder shared the positive implications this light upgrade has for the club.

“The new lights mean the club will be able to host a number of games, not only that but it’s a step forward to the clubs ambition to be part of the NSD (national second division),” a club spokesperson told Soccerscene.

“The support from local council has been nothing but fantastic, Dandenong want to be a sporting hub for the south east suburbs.

“With the FA cup we have seen A-League clubs play at local level clubs, having these new high powered lights we will be able to broadcast at a higher quality, no more yellow light broadcast.”

This news presents an exciting future for Dandenong Thunder and the matches played at George Andrews Reserve. The quality of training, matches and broadcasts has improved tenfold and it matches the size of the NPL Victoria side that have big ambitions.

CPKC and Kansas City Current’s major stadium naming rights deal a win for women’s sport

CPKC Stadium design

The world’s first professional female-football dedicated stadium – home of the NWSL’s Kansas City Current – will be known as CPKC Stadium, after an historic naming rights deal was agreed with the North American rail network company.

Formed as a merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern rail networks in July this year, CPKC represents the first trans-North American rail network between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

CPKC has been a leading investor for women’s sports in the state of Kansas, and CPKC President & CEO, Keith Creel, was proud to announce the stadium naming rights deal.

“We are incredibly proud to sponsor the Kansas City Current and support this history-making project here in the city that is at the heart of our North American rail network,” Creel said via press release.

“CPKC has been a long-time champion of women’s sports and of investing in our communities. This stadium and this partnership with the Current will build on that legacy as together we write a new chapter here in Kansas City.”

CPKC will also hold naming rights to the stadium’s outdoor space for fans, which will be known as CPKC Plaza. This area provides entertainment for all CPKC Stadium attendees, including the KC Current’s official merchandise store.

It is hoped that the naming rights deal will kickstart further investment in women’s football across the region, which has been the cornerstone of the KC Current’s existence according to co-founders and owners, Angie and Chris Long.

“Our [KC Current & CPKC] organisations share a commitment to strive for excellence, invest heavily in our communities and raise the bar with global influence. We are extremely excited to work with CPKC on this historic agreement and know our partnership will create a long-standing positive impact!”

Further to its substantial investment in women’s football, CPKC’s establishment of a direct line between Canada, the United States and Mexico is expected to have substantial benefits for football supporters attending the 2026 Men’s FIFA World Cup.

Presently, though, the stadium naming rights deal demonstrates CPKC’s intention to be a key investor in women’s football across Kansas and North America.

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