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Today marks a new chapter in the Scottish Youth Football Association, with the appointment of Florence Witherow as National Secretary. A statement on the SYFA official website read:
 
"The Scottish Youth Football Association can today confirm that, after a thorough and exhaustive recruitment process, Florence Witherow has been appointed as the organisation’s new National Secretary. A lifelong football fan, Florence joins the SYFA from SecuriGroup where she was a Senior Project Manager, a role that saw her take charge of a number of successful national events and contracts, managing hundreds of staff."

On making the appointment SYFA chairman, John McCrimmond, said: “First and foremost we are extremely pleased to be welcoming Florence to the organisation. As a board of directors, we are confident that she is the right person to take the organisation forward as we continue to grow and provide greater access to safe, organised football for Scotland’s young people. With a wealth of experience in administration, project management and communication we are excited to start working with Florence to move the SYFA forward during this challenging yet exciting time for youth football in Scotland.”
 
On being appointed to the role, Florence said: “I’d like to thank the SYFA board of directors for giving me this incredible opportunity to work with the amazing staff and volunteers at the SYFA. I really can’t wait to get started and I’m very excited about the coming weeks, months and years. I’ve been playing and watching football for as long as I can remember, and ever since my dad took me to my first ever game I have been hooked. This is an organisation filled with fantastic people and there is an enormous amount of potential here. I will be doing everything I can to unlock that potential and help get more young people playing football in Scotland.” 

YFS welcomes Florence to the community, wishes her best of luck in the role and looks forward to working closely with her to promote the grassroots game across Scotland.
For centuries, sports betting has been an integral part of the United Kingdom. And, whereas casino gambling has become a rather more popular form of gambling, betting shops still exist, attracting thousands of punters each day. At present, we seem to take sports betting for granted – there are about 8,500 betting shop all over the country, and hundreds of online bookmakers reign over the web.
 
Less than a century ago, however, betting on sports was a shady activity, performed on the streets. In order to understand how sports betting grew from a disreputable enterprise into one of the UK’s most profitable industries, we need to delve into the history of sports betting in the UK.
 

The Beginning

Gambling was popular in the UK until the 1800s, when an anti-gambling movement emerged as a response to several high-profile betting frauds and corrupt lotteries. Parliament passed several acts in 1845 and 1853, which prohibited commercialised gambling. Punters could still bet on horses, but the enterprise was largely reserved for the wealthy. Consequently, gambling was taken to streets and back alleys.
 

The Inception of Legal Sports Betting

Sports punting remained an unregulated activity reserved mainly for the rich until the 1960s. In 1960, Parliament passed the 1960 Gambling Act, and the first betting shops were established in May 1961. According to data, as much as 10,000 bookmakers opened shop within the first six months.
 
Big-time bookies also opened shop, taking advantage of the legislation that eliminated their back alley competitors. Not all famous bookies followed suit, though. For example, the godfather of sports betting in the UK who recently became the father of sports betting in the US—William Hill—steered clear from betting shops, opening one as late as 1966.
 
 
In the following decade or so, it was bookies like William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral which dominated the UK sports betting market. The market only became a little more hospitable in the 1980s, and below you will find out why.
 

The Evolution

Parliament introduced changes to the 1960 Gambling Act in 1986, which permitted bookmakers to transform their design and interior. The year remains a landmark in UK bookmakers’ history, as from then onwards bookies were no longer shabby and grim. Thanks to the 1986 legislative changes, bookies could serve drinks and provide seating for punters. But that was not all – they were also allowed to paint the walls and even install televisions.
 
One thing remained unchanged, though – who controlled the market. Established in the early 1934, William Hill managed to remain on top of competition, as did Ladbrokes. But new names also joined the club of big-time bookies, and those were Coral and Mecca.
 
It was thanks to these four brands that the government tax charged on individual bets was finally abolished in 2002, after many years of unsuccessful attempts. The tax was imposed on all winnings and amounted to 10%.
 

The Impact of Premier League

In 1992, the English Premier League was established, changing the sports betting landscape within the country. First of all, the creation of the Premier League made possible single match betting, thus making football arguably the most popular sport for punting on UK territory.
 
Secondly, Premier League helped bookies expand. Initially, only UK punters could put money on Premier League, but when the rules got relaxed, fans flooded in, leading to an increased demand for spots betting shops.
 
Additionally, the Premier League made the football betting market as diverse as we know it today. In the beginning, punters could not wager on yellow cards, corners, or the minute of scored goals, but when the Premier League was established, the market began to diversify.
 
 

The Shift To Virtual Spots Betting

1996 is another landmark in the history of UK sports betting. This is the year when the first online bookmaker opened shop in the UK virtual space. This was Intertops, licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
 
Today, there are some sites where you can bet on football and, whereas Intertops still exists, its old-time flamboyance has disappeared.
 

Further Legislative Changes

In 2005, Parliament introduced additional changes to the Gambling Act. As a result, bookmakers and betting sites had to obtain a license in order to operate in the UK. More importantly, however, the 2005 Gambling Act gave a green light to TV advertising of bookmakers, which boosted the industry like no other Act ever did.
 
The most recent development of the UK sports betting industry is that it crossed the ocean, arriving in the US. In May 2018, Supreme Court legalised sports betting in the US, and just a few months later, William Hill betting shops could be found in New Jersey.
 
Nowadays, sports betting is about 40% less popular than it was back in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it remains a vital part of UK culture, generating more than £3.2 billion in revenues.
 
YFS was present last Friday to take in the first ever Box Soccer Training tournament held in conjunction with Heart of Midlothian’s Academy at the state of the art Oriam National Performance Centre facilities in Edinburgh.
 
Event spokesperson (and Box Soccer East Dunbartonshire head coach) Antony McMinn told YFS: "The tournament was split into mixed age groups of 2012-2010 and 2009-2006 with around 200 players from Angus, Dundee, Fife, Stirling, North Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh and West Lothian all taking part. The idea was to replicate the experience of playing street football with children of various ages. It created different challenges for the players who were very much encouraged to solve problems and coach themselves, something that Box Soccer are massive on, without the coaches' input."

After the football had concluded, there was a special treat for the young players, with two Hearts legends in attendance for the presentation. John Colquhoun, now owner of Box Soccer, told a stand packed with players and parents: "Thanks to everyone for turning out at today's event. It's the first time we've ran this initiative and it's great to see so many young players from across Scotland taking part. When I was a kid I'd often play against players older than me and it was key to my development. It was fantastic watching some of the younger players working so hard to push older opposition all the way. But most importantly you're all here playing and I can see smiles all around."

Colquhoun then introduced current Heart of Midlothian FC manager Craig Levein, who echoed his comments before providing the winning teams with their prizes. He said: "It's brilliant to see the facility cime live with so many young players. Oriam was built for days like today. The standard and attitudes were fantastic and the future looks bright."
 
McMinn concluded: "Every child who attended the day has either taken part in a Box Soccer Holiday Camp or weekly class. With new classes being added for the new school year Box is growing not just in numbers but quality and Head of Coaching Darren Murray is driving coaching standards through regular coach education. As well as club partnerships with the likes of Hearts of Midlothian, Airdrie, Stenhousemuir and Arbroath the company has a number of sessions throughout Scotland run by highly trained franchisees."
 
Click here for a photo gallery from the event. To try a free taster Box Soccer session near you visit www.boxsoccertraining.com.
The 2018-19 Scottish Premiership kicks off on August 4. Celtic go into the new season as the reigning Scottish champions and 11 clubs will aim to knock off the title holders. It is a big season for Scottish football as big named new managers and fresh players have joined the Premiership. Scottish football team Rangers could be accused of having a gambling problem as the club have taken a major punt on a new coach. Celtic have brought back one of their key players and two Scottish clubs with Premiership history have returned to the club.
 
Celtic's title defense begins on August 4 against Livingston. The Hoops will play at Parkhead to kick off the season. The club is aiming for its 50th Scottish championship.
 
Will Celtic get it or will there be a twist in the story?
 
Steven Gerrard attempts Rangers title challenge
 
Steven Gerrard is the biggest name to join Scottish football this summer. The former Liverpool captain was appointed Rangers manager and will attempt a challenge to Celtic for the league title. Rangers finished third last term and qualified for the Europa League. It will be a trial by fire for Gerrard, who has only coached previously in Liverpool's academy. A good season could see him propelled up the coaching ranks. A bad season could see him fall down several pegs. He has signed Liverpool attacking midfielder Ovie Ejaria on loan. The player could be a break out star in Scotland.
 
Celtic break transfer record on Odsonne Edouard
Celtic signed French 20-year-old forward Odsonne Edouard to a permanent deal this summer breaking the club's previous transfer record. Edouard joined from Paris Saint-Germain for £9.27 million. Last season, Edouard played on loan at Celtic recording nine goals in 22 matches. His return to the club will keep Celtic's forward combination of Edouard, Scott Sinclair, and Moussa Dembele together for another Scottish Premiership season.
 
Aberdeen to push for title?
Aberdeen have finished second in the Scottish Premiership in each of the last four seasons. The club has been brilliant at finishing as runners-up but can't seem to get over the hump to win the title. Manager Derek McInnes has brought in just three players so far this summer. McInnes was able to sign Lewis Ferguson from Hamilton, Stephen Gleeson from Ipswich, and Chris Forrester from Peterborough United. Compared to the moves of Celtic and Rangers, however, it may not be enough to finish top of the pile. It may not even be enough to finish second for a fifth straight term.
 
St. Mirren and Livingston return to Scottish Premiership
Both St. Mirren and Livingston returned to the Scottish Premiership after securing promotion from the Championship. Livingston were only demoted to the third tier in 2016 for financial issues. The club achieved back to back promotions and rejoin the top-flight ahead of the 2018-19 season. St. Mirren rejoins the Premiership after three seasons away in the second-tier. St. Mirren won the Championship last term and will have their focus on building a stable Scottish Premiership tenure. The club has signed new manager Alan Stubbs to take over for Jack Ross, who was in charge of the club from 2016 to 2018. Ross, a former St. Mirren player before turning manager, was recruited by Sunderland to turn their luck around south of the border.

 
In majority of the present day’s football leagues like the Premier League, as we all know, each match is played twice. One in what is called at home and the other referred to as away. ‘Home’, in this case refers to matches that teams play in their home grounds, similarly ‘away’ refers to matches played by them at the opponents’ home grounds.
 
Now, the grounds that matches are played on tend to have an effect on a team’s performance. It’s not always a given, but it is something anyone indulging in a little bit of football betting should consider before wagering their money. There are some excellent premier league betting offers out there, but home ground edge is something you can never overlook. The craze of football betting is not limited to England however. The neighbouring Scots also have a serious go at it during their domestic league (SPFL). You too could try out your chances with a bet or two in that if you want.
 
 
 
But coming back to the issue on hand, there are clear indications on why you should always consider the home ground angle. Here are some of them -

Statistical Evidence

It is said that of all the types of sports out there it is in football that home teams have the biggest advantage over their opponents. Consider the stats – in the Premier League season of 2016/17 there were a total of 607 home goals as opposed to just 457 away goals. Furthermore 49.2% of games were won by the home team. It is said that even the Yanks are heading over to England to try their luck in betting and they and everyone else would benefit immensely if they keep stats like these in their mind.

The crowds

Support is a big thing in football. Just knowing that the massive cheering by thousands of people is all for your benefit does something to the spirit. It encourages players to give their best and then some. There is no scientific evidence to back this up, but if you’ve ever stepped into the stadium during one of the more celebrated Premier League matches you will know what we are talking about.
 
 

Familiarity

This too is an obscure one, but many former footballers and pundits say that playing at home give teams an advantage as they know the ground well. They know the lay of the land and how to get the best out of the pitch due to constant practice. Familiarity is a small thing but when passions winning or losing is a matter of prestige due to legendary football rivalries,
 
In conclusion, it can be said that the notion that home grounds offer an advantage to home teams is not very far-fetched and it exists in other sports too. One should always consider the odds that are on offer and keep this factor in mind when trying to predict the outcomes of football matches.
 

As the domestic season draws to a close, the focus of the back pages is slowly but surely starting to settle on Russia. The opening match of the FIFA World Cup takes place on 14 June, when Russia take on Saudi Arabia. Ordinarily, it would not be a match-up to capture the imagination, but there is always something special about seeing the host nation in action.


Russia are favourites to win that first match, with some bookmakers having them as strong as 1/4 on, and if all goes to form, they will take an early lead in the Group A table. But how far can the host nation really go?


Everyone likes a dark horse


Even the most die-hard follower of the top teams loves to look down the list of qualifiers and select their personal dark horse, which they will cheer on to pull off a few surprises. You can also read about 5 underdog teams to watch at 2018 World Cup over here. Clearly, the hosts will be one on the most talked-about underdogs in the World Cup. But just how far can they go?


Russia’s World Cup record


In the Soviet days, the team had some strong World Cup performances, making the quarter finals in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and having their best ever performance in 1966, when they lost to West Germany in the semi final.


Since the fall of the Soviet Union, however, Russia has had a torrid time. The team has only qualified three times, and has never proceeded beyond the group stages, winning just two of the nine matches they have played. Potentially, however, things could be different this year.


The luck of the draw


The other teams in Group A with Russia are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. While Uruguay are clearly the stand-out favourites in the group, Russia certainly have a realistic chance of getting through to the last 16. Some see Egypt as another dark horse, and the match between them, which takes place on 19 June, could be the pivotal one.


Pressure to perform


With everything else that’s going on in the world at the moment, a successful World Cup is of huge importance to Russia, both socially and politically. If their own team can perform well, that will be the icing in the cake – in fact, according to a survey by the Public Opinion Fund (FOM), three quarters of the 1,500 people asked said it is “personally important” that Russia performs well, although only four percent backed their team to win the entire event.


The additional pressure of being the host nation has traditionally been more of a curse than a blessing. Of course, South Korea astonished the watching world to make the semi finals in 2002, but they are the exception that proves the rule. More commonly, the hosts struggle to live up to the hype.  South Africa had a wretched World Cup 2010, their consolation win over France proving the only bright point.


Capello confident


One man is quietly confident that Russia can go at least one step further than they have gone before, and that’s their former manager, Fabio Capello. The 71 year-old, who was recently sacked from his latest role at Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, is confident that Russia have what it takes to make an impact this year. When asked by FIFA.com what the world could expect from his former team, he said: “I saw the draw – they will get past the first round.”


He added that there is one man Russia will desperately need to have firing on all cylinders, and that is the captain, striker Fyodor Smolov. The 28 year old is undoubtedly world class, and has already attracted Premier League attention, with West Ham expected to make a move for him in the transfer window.

 
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:03

Scottish players making an impact in the EPL

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Scottish footballers in the English Premier League often go under the radar due to the array of talent that has flooded the league from abroad. There are, in fact, quite a few who have graced the division over recent times, with three making an impact just lately. The season may now be over, but each of the three players will be looking to make an even bigger impact in England’s top flight next season, and could we see even more Scottish talent head south over the course of the summer?
 
Andrew Robertson
Robertson, 24, joined Liverpool from Hull City last summer and since then he has really come on leaps and bounds. He’s arguably been the best left back in the division this season, after making 22 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s men, and he’s also starred in Europe too. Robertson has shown that he’s equally effective defensively, as he is offensively, and he possesses a wand of a left foot. He’s now become known for putting over some great crosses from the left and his energy is unbelievable. It would be great to see him make the team for the Champions League Final against Real Madrid.
 
Ryan Fraser
It’s taken Ryan Fraser a while to establish himself as a first team regular for Bournemouth, but the 24-year-old has now managed to make his mark in the Premier League this season. He’s made 25 appearances in the Premier League for Eddie Howe’s side this campaign and has weighed in with 5 goals and 3 assists. His versatility makes him a huge asset, as does his pace and willingness to run. This season he has appeared as a right back, right midfielder, second striker and a left winger, and he should now be a part of Howe’s plans for The Cherries next season.
 
Scott McTominay
McTominay, 21, has made the breakthrough at Manchester United this season under the guidance of manager Jose Mourinho, and there are big hopes surrounding the central midfielder, especially with Michael Carrick retiring from professional football. He’s made a total of 22 senior appearances for United this season just gone and he is likely to make more over the course of the 2018/19 campaign. He should be able to learn a lot from the likes of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, and with Carrick now focusing on coaching, he too could have a big impact on McTominay’s development.
 
The three players mentioned above are the real stand out talents currently plying their trade in the English Premier League right now. However, there are again string rumours that suggest Celtic left back Kiernan Tierney could be set for a move to a top English clubtoo. In order to get all the latest info on this and many other football related news, be sure to visit Betting.com's Football Betting page. The 20-year-old has been a revelation in the SPL, with many tipping him to go on to bigger and better things. Both Manchester United and Spurs are believed to be in the hunt for a left back, and Tierney certainly fits the bill.
 
Watching a football game is fun but this is not the only way to enjoy it. It can be turned into an even more exciting experience. This is through football betting. Just to clarify, though, this post is not aimed at encouraging young football fans to get involved in gambling. The goal here is to educate as not many young football fans are aware of the idea of gambling in football.
 
What to expect
Many sports betting sites share the same offerings although there are some that bear distinctive features. You may notice the top football betting sites have the following features:
  • Not solely about football.It’s a rarity finding sports betting sites that are dedicated only to football. The leading football betting sites are mostly general sports betting sites. They also feature other sports and events such as basketball, baseball, volleyball, and even notable non-sports events like the Oscars.
  • Not that interactive but still exciting.Football betting may not be that exciting if you are placing bets on games that are yet to happen. You will most likely enjoy football betting better if you bet on games that are ongoing. This way, you can enjoy watching the game and claim your prize in case your bet wins after the game is over.
  • In-play betting.Many sports betting sites allow you to place bets for an ongoing game. Football is usually one of the popular sports that come with in-play betting.
  • Multi-view. You can do sports betting for multiple events at the same time. There are advanced sports betting sites that let you keep track of the progress of different events you placed bets on. It’s not recommended to engage in simultaneous sports betting if you are a newbie, though.
  • Multiple payment options. Since you are going to place bets, of course, you need a way to make deposits into your account. These deposits become the funds you will be using for placing bets. Leading sports betting sites accept MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Skrill.
  • Payout policy. In most cases, you can withdraw your winnings through the same method you used for making deposits. If you made deposits through your Visa card, for example, your withdrawal will be processed through your Visa card.
All about statistics and forecasts
Football betting is mainly about game results and stats. As such, you need to be well-acquainted with the different football betting stats. Numerous websites present statistics and other information that can help you with football betting.
Moreover, there are emerging trends sports bettors have to keep up with. These trends are usually related to personnel changes, player injuries, and weather during the game dates.
 
The need for sensible betting
Since football betting is basically a form of gambling, it is important to watch out for the proper management of your bankroll. Usually, football bettors only spend around 20% of their total bankroll for every week. If you are a newbie to it, you have to be more prudent. The losses may not be that noticeable to you as you enjoy watching the games and betting. However, it can easily reach a point of problem gambling.
Yes, gambling on football games is possible and many people do it. If you are thinking of trying it, you need to get properly acquainted with its different terms and nuances. At the same time, you need to be mindful of the possibility of getting addicted to the gambling aspect of it.
Image: Pixabay.com
Football is the biggest participation sport in the world with the latest figures showing that there are around 300 million registered players across all levels of the game, of whom 40 million are female. In parks all over the UK every Saturday and Sunday the “weekend warriors” forget their normal jobs and become the stars of their local club or pub team. Unfortunately, on Monday morning, many of them hobble into work or school with injuries sustained on the pitch.
 
In any contact sport there will be injuries caused by collisions with other players, the ground or the woodwork. But other types of damage such as sprains, strains and tears to the soft tissues can be avoided. At the amateur level training is often seen as a chore - players want the glory but they don’t want to put in the hard preparation work. But at any level, by using the correct training methods and warming up properly before a match, players will be fitter and less prone to injury. This is something that needs to be taught from a young age.
 
Training Should Be Fun
 
Kids have a relatively short attention span so, when they start learning to play football, although they might quickly pick up the basics, they will lose interest if it’s all about teaching. That’s like being at school! But, like school, the training should be broken up by playtimes. Introducing fun games and challenges will keep their interest.
 
Children will run around and kick a ball for as long as they’re allowed and their fitness and stamina will build naturally. They should be encouraged to play other sports so they gradually develop different areas of their bodies. Concentrating on the same areas of exercise can actually hinder their growth. And, with a variety of games to play they are less likely to get bored and drop out of football. Some studies have shown that kids who have more all-round ability are less liable to suffer football injuries as they grow older.
 
If the idea that training is fun is instilled early, it is more probable that notion will be carried forward into adolescence and adulthood.
 
Youth Training
 
The clichés, “no pain, no gain” or “you can run through the pain” shouldn’t apply to youth football. If a young person complains of pain it should be ascertained whether it is something minor that can be “run off” or an injury that needs treatment and/or rest.
 
Young bones aren’t usually fully formed and grown until the mid to late teens. The cartilage in the joints is softer than in adults and is slow to repair when damaged. Introducing serious and frequent training too early can result in overuse injuries which can have long-lasting effects.
 
A common cause of foot pain in adolescents is Sever’s disease which affects the heel. It is usually the result of too much exercise, especially running or not using the right running technique. If a child complains of heel pain they need to stop the exercise and rest the foot. A physiotherapist will be able to detect abnormal movement and provide exercises to stabilise the foot movement. If Sever’s disease goes undetected and untreated there can be a permanent deformity of the bone.
 
There are a number of other injuries which are relatively minor for an adult but can affect the long-term development of young people. Training techniques, particularly with weights, need to be introduced gradually and developed as the player matures. There should also be sufficient recovery time allowed after matches and training sessions to lessen the risk of overuse damage.
 
Injury Prevention
 
One of the major factors in injury prevention is preparation. Warming up before a match or training session slowly raises the heart rate, stretches the muscles, ligaments and tendons and increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.
 
FIFA, in consultation with a group of medical experts, developed a warm up and injury prevention program called 11+ which is available todownload. The program is designed for footballers over the age of 14 and should be performed at least twice weekly to be wholly effective. It consists of three parts: Low speed running exercises with some stretching; exercises for strength, balance, agility and plyometrics; moderate to high speed running with direction changes.
 
In a study by the British Medical Journal it was shown that teams using the 11+ program reduced injuries in training by 37% and match injuries by 29% with a 50% reduction in serious injuries.
 
Training sessions should incorporate core training which strengthens the abdominal, back and pelvic muscles, building core stability. Working on the muscles that help with balance can improve posture, coordination, stability and agility. Plyometrics, or jump training, helps to strengthen muscles, ligaments and tendons in the legs and enables a player to jump more powerfully.
 
All of these factors work together to reduce the risk of injury. The player is less likely to fall, will be stronger in contact with other players and will land better after jumping.
 
A cooling down period after exercising is also beneficial. It lets the heart rate decrease gradually and gentle stretching will reduce the risk of cramp and stiffening in the muscles by reducing the build-up of lactic acid.
 
Playing by the Rules
Football is a tough game but the rules are there to protect players and make the game fair and entertaining. Players who make reckless challenges by going over the ball, using elbows or jumping badly can not only injure other players, but also themselves.
 
A tackle that breaks a player’s leg, for instance, doesn’t just rule them out of the sport for a long time, but can also affect their livelihood if they are unable to work.
 
If you sustain an injury which you believe is the result of recklessness or negligence, you could make a claim against the player, club or match official. You should seek advice from a solicitor who will advise you on the procedure for making a personal injury claim.
 
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 21:59

Common football injuries

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Football is arguably the most popular sport in the world with more than 265 million participants around the globe according to the 2015 FIFA Big Count. There are an estimated four billion football fans. Even in America where it is not a traditional sport, the number of players has been steadily growing and now stands at over 24 million making it the third most played team sport in that country.
 
However, football is a tough, physical sport and outfield players can run an average of 7 miles in a match with some midfielders covering as much as 9.5 miles. As well as a high level of fitness, players need the strength to tackle and the skill to evade tackles. But as a highly competitive contact sport there are frequent injuries sustained, from minor knocks that the “magic spray” will cure to serious damage with longer-term effects.
 
In the professional game, there are strict training and diet regimes watched over by the coaches. When players get injured, the clubs have medics and physios who treat them and monitor their recovery. A player doesn’t get back on the pitch until the club doctor says they are fit to do so.
 
But, for the millions of amateur players who play every weekend, it is generally their own decision as to when they return to the game after being injured. Frequently, players go back to playing before they are fully recovered which often results in overuse injuries. Repetitive injuries are especially dangerous when they involve head trauma.
 
Strains and Tear Injuries
 
Because of the nature of the game the most common injuries to outfield players are to the lower body, with a third caused by overuse through not giving an injury sufficient time to recover. Injuries to the soft tissues like ligaments, tendons and muscles are frequently incurred through turning, overstretching and changing direction suddenly.
 
Hamstring injuries affect the back of the thigh. A minor strain might just need a few day’s rest, but a tear to the muscle can involve months of recovery.
 
Knee injuries in football are very common and one of the most serious is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This used to be a career ending injury for the player, but advances in medicine mean that with surgery they can play again, although they could be out of the game for a year.
 
A meniscus tear is damage to the cartilage in the knee which can sideline a player for around eight weeks. A more serious tear may need surgery meaning many months of being unable to play.
 
Overstretching when going for the ball, sprinting or twisting can result in a groin strain or hernia. This is another injury which, in the more serious cases, could mean months out of action. However, the recovery time has been much reduced by improved surgical procedure.
 
Traumas
 
Trauma injuries are mostly caused by collisions with other players or falls. These could be minor cuts or bruises or, in the worst cases, fractures to the legs. In the thick of the action where players are contesting high balls there can be a clash of heads which could cause concussion.
 
In the penalty area, goalkeepers literally throw themselves in harm’s way and risk clashing with players, the ground and even the goal posts. In 2006, Petr Cech, who then played for Chelsea, suffered a fractured skull while diving at a forward’s feet. The injury was life threatening but he recovered after surgery. He now has to wear a protective helmet during matches.
 
Head Injuries
 
Concussion is temporary damage to the brain which can be the result of a clash of heads. A player who is in a heavy collision which causes severe shaking of the head can also suffer a concussion. It is not an uncommon injury and most players make a complete recovery. The danger lies in the condition not being quickly diagnosed and treated correctly.
 
As with any other trauma injury, a concussion needs time to heal and the player will need complete rest, mental as well as physical, until the symptoms have gone completely. Their return to training should be gradual, initially with no heading of the ball or tackling. If a player starts back too soon there is a chance of a secondary or repetitive concussion which are believed to cause long-term and possibly life-changing damage in later life.
 
If you suspect a player might have concussion but carries on playing, you should inform the referee. Signs of concussion could be confusion, a blank stare, being distracted or not playing as well as normal.
 
Youth Football
 
It has been shown that the older a player gets, the more susceptible they are to injuries, particularly those to the soft tissues as they lose elasticity. Consequently, there are far fewer injuries in youth football than in the adult game.
 
But training for children and young teens has to be geared differently because their bones are still forming and growing and they can’t take the same stresses as adult bones. If young people are pushed too hard it can do lasting damage. Fitness, flexibility and form can be worked on, but weights can wait. A varied training routine will provide the best long-term, all-round fitness.
 
It is especially important that if youths do suffer injury they take enough time out to rest and recover so that the problem isn’t compounded.
 
Injury Claims
If you sustain a serious sports injury such as head trauma and you believe it is due to negligence on the part of the referee or a reckless challenge by another player you might be able to make a claim against them. It is a difficult procedure as playing sport brings with it the inherent risk of injury. The onus will be on you to provide evidence to prove the negligence, so witness statements should be taken. A team of legal experts specialising in personal injury will advise you on the process of making a claim for a head injury.
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