The 1st Ever HeadSAFE Project
Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is delighted to be a 2022 FIFA Foundation Community Programme-supported organisation! Together with our partners training4changeS, Head for Change, Sport Session Planner, and Rezzil we will be delivering the 1st ever project promoting safe heading in football. The biggest threat to Child Safety in football programming is heading the ball. A recent study in the UK showed that footballers were 3.5 times more likely to suffer neurodegenerative disease than the general population. The English FA has banned heading for under 12’s in training and are piloting a ban in games. The professional game has just instructed that players do no more than 10 high impact headers per week. Last year Head for Change hosted the first football match which banned heading at Spennymoor FC. Now more than ever, it is vital that all participants in football are aware of the potential impact of heading on long-term neurology.
CAC and Head for Change is proud to be at the forefront of this work. We recently met with England football legend Kevin Keegan to talk about HeadSAFE and the solutions to this upsetting problem. A number of Kevin’s teammates have been diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease. In addition, it has been widely documented that many members of the England 1966 World Cup winning team, including Ray Wilson, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton, Bobby Charlton, and Nobby Stiles, have been affected by dementia in recent years.
In response to this critical issue CAC and our partners are piloting an educational project which will promote safe heading throughout the sport. CAC have designed a unique play-based curriculum, using the Sport Session Planner platform, which ensures youth leaders have the tools to discuss vital messages around heading, brain development and hydration with their participants. The curriculum is consistent while being adaptable for the specific challenges facing a diverse range of communities globally. CAC have trained training4changeS leaders in Stellenbosch, South Africa in the curriculum so they can effectively deliver HeadSAFE in their 2022 youth programming weekly. In addition, we have provided training4changeS with a virtual reality headset which utilise’s Rezzil’s Player 22 safe heading software so their participants can learn the technique behind head the ball without the constant head and brain impact. As part of this pilot we are designing guidelines for safe heading protection in youth programs and we are committing to reducing heading in the programming by at least 25%.
CAC Board Member and Head for Change Co-Founder Judith Gates says:
‘It is seeing at first hand the effects of CTE, an unremitting progressive disease only caused by concussive and sub concussive head injuries, that motivated me to be a co-founder of Head for Change. I will do all in my power to protect others from the devastating consequences of sports related neurodegenerative disease. Let’s work together to bring about the changes we know are needed, let’s work together to create a safer sporting future.’
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:
About FIFA Foundation Community Programme
The Foundation Community Programme supports organisations that use football as a tool for social change and to improve the lives of underprivileged people around the world. Once a year, the FIFA Foundation invites established non-profit entities to apply for project funding in order to use football as a tool to address social issues affecting young people such as education, health, peacebuilding, refugees, leadership and gender equality.
Coaches Across Continents is an award-winning non-profit focused on education and community development. Its Purposeful Play curriculum and Education Outside the Classroom (EOC) methodology supports communities to design pathways towards social change based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. EOC empowers communities, organizations, leaders and young people to analyze their needs and implement strategies to choose their futures. CAC has trained and certified 25,000+ community coaches and leaders, and annually, provides quality education for over 16 million youth.