Injury Risk in Mixed Gender Football
The Football Association has contracted Brunel University to investigate the risk of injury in mixed gender football. We have conducted two years of qualitative research evaluate a pilot programme allowing mixed gender football from U12-14 and five years of risk assessments leading to six changes in national policy (from U11-U18). We are currently contracted to evaluate injury risk in mixed gender competition in adult leagues.
In 2009 , the FA contracted Brunel University to evaluate the pilot of mixed gender football programmes in U12-U14 youth teams. Our research included interviews and questionnaires with male and female players, parents, coaches, and league officials. Brunel University (2009) recommended that the FA continue to allow girls to play with boys Under 12 – Under 14 as the research suggested that girls benefit from opportunities for skill development, challenge and enjoyment; boys and girls benefited socially from the friendships they developed and gaining respect for each other as teammates; and, that girls who chose to play on boys’ teams had the requisite knowledge and skill. Subsequently Brunel University was contracted to conduct a series of risk assessment at U14, U15, U16 and U18. These risk assessments indicated that the risk of injury is low for all players and that girls who played on mixed gender teams were not at greater risk of injury than players participating in boys’ only or girls’ only teams.
The research has contributed to six changes to national policy. It has also led to further work with the FA and the International Netball Association on injury risk.