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.

Football Queensland and Roar Football in the Community program to capitalise on growth

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced a partnership with A-League staple Brisbane Roar as the member federation continues to build towards their 2026 strategic growth plan.

The two organisations have combined to launch a community incentive, titled ‘Football Queensland and Roar Football in the Community’.

As a result of the collaboration, it is an Australian first – as no club across the country has experienced a feat  which is being exhibited in Queensland between the Roar and governing body.

This gound-breaking alliance has effectively reinforced the established relationship between the state and one of the country’s most renowned football clubs, drawing emphasis upon the strategy of building upon the ongoing development and support of football within Queensland.

Football Queensland and Roar Football in the Community will deliver a vast variety of grassroots football clinics, sessions, events and community engagement programs to young aspiring boy and girl participants.

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci disclosed his assertiveness in FQ hitting the 2026 strategy plan, with the newly found partnership a step in the right direction.

“Combining our strong ties to the grassroots football community with Brisbane Roar’s connection to football fans across the state ensures we can implement best practice delivery methods to unite the game in Queensland,” he said via media release.

Brisbane Roar FC Chairman & CEO Kaz Patafta discussed his admiration towards the expansion of the Club’s reach in the new state wide opportunity.

“We’re delighted to expand Brisbane Roar FC’s reach throughout the Queensland football community as we continue working collaboratively with Football Queensland to pave the way for innovative and strategic opportunities for the game,” he added via press release.

This community program intends on introducing young boys and girls to the sport of football, in attempts to increase participation numbers.

It is a strict objective in which FQ are adamant in achieving, all in accordance to their 2024-2026 Development Strategy.

Additionally, the programs created are crafted for children across the state of Queensland, with a database featured on the community program website, allowing parents to navigate the closest programs within their respective area of the state.

Schools are also invited to become involved – find out more about Football in the Community here: https://footballqueensland.com.au/football-in-the-community/

Volunteers valued throughout nationwide week in their honour

Volunteers are the backbone of sports clubs across the nation, within the lifespan of a successful club, volunteers throughout generations are selflessly involved.

National Volunteer Week 2024 is an incentive created by Volunteering Australia (VA) who have continued the promotion of volunteers since their inception in 1991.

Founded under the National Secretariat Program, VA are the peak organisation for volunteers across the country.

National Volunteer week has officially began, with its conclusion occurring on Sunday.

Coaches, administrators, referees and team managers all fall under the plethora of volunteers in whom without it the day to day living organism of a club would cease to exist.

Selfless within the endeavours undertaken, volunteers dedicate time and effort at the betterment of a sports club.

Playing a pivotal role in various aspects of a sports club operations. They are the unsung heroes in building chemistry amongst players, club participants and officials.

Unifying a broader community under the umbrella of a sporting entity.

Football across the nation have showcased their appreciation towards volunteers.

Football NSW have swiftly acknowledged the continuous contributions made by volunteers throughout the state by disclosing their participation within the week.

As stated on their website, Football NSW CEO John Tsatsimas touched upon the importance in which volunteers possess.

“Every week we see thousands of dedicated volunteers, committed administrators, and mums and dads giving their time to ensure our players of all ages can enjoy the beautiful game.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our game – the grassroots appeal of our game would not be what it is without their passion for the sport and undying commitment to their local club and community.”

Football NSW are honouring the volunteers within the state through Football NSW Champion Volunteer Pieces, all to be presented across social media platforms and the NSW website throughout the duration of volunteer week.

Additionally, the theme for this year’s annual National Volunteer Week is “Something for Everyone”. Placing a firm emphasis upon recognition of diversity within the volunteering community.

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