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Safety ‘at the Heart’ of Football Quebec’s Action Plan

In an effort to “continually ensure the safe practise of sport,” Football Quebec has announced the creation of a working group on safety in football, as well as modifications to its safety regulations rulebook.

These new actions are in line with a myriad of new safety measures adopted over the last year. Those included the adoption of new game rules at the start of the 2014 season, new training standards for coaches related to safe tackling and head injuries and the creation of a full-time position focused on sport safety and development.

Five Experts To Examine the Major Issues in Quebec Football

This permanent and independent working group focused on football safety will study various possibilities in terms of sport safety practises and will make recommendations to the Federation’s Board of Directors.

Working Group participants have expertise in various areas of Quebec and Canadian football, and also bring to the table their own individual experience and knowledge:

–         Tim Fleiszer, former professional player in the Canadian National Football League, player agent, and Director of the Canadian Branch of the Sport Legacy Institute – an international research group recognized for its scientific contributions to concussion research in sport.

–         Patrick Gendron, Chief Athletic Therapist of the Université de Montréal Carabins and member of the Conseil de médecine du sport du Québec (CMSQ).

–         Étienne Boulay, former professional player in the Canadian National Football League.

–         Roland Grand’Maison, Lawyer specialized in sport, former Director of Collegiate Programs with Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

–         Bernard Daigneault, former referee and Provincial Assignments Supervisor, Administrator,Quebec Provincial Football Officials Association (QPFOA).

Modifications To Safety Regulations

The newly formed working group has already had its first meeting to study current Federation safety regulations rulebook, and issued preliminary proposals to the Board of Directors as of March 11, 2015. The following modifications were ratified:

1)      Currently in Quebec, a First Aid Attendant has to be present during games and contact-training. The Board of Directors has adopted a new measure specifying that during games, each team must have its own First Aid Attendant, and that this individual can’t be part of the coaching staff of either team.

2)     As of immediately, all teams must be equipped with a recognized return-to-play protocol for athletes following concussions. The Federation also recommends the protocol approved by the Corporation des thérapeutes du sport du Québec (CTSQ).

3)     As of August 15, 2016, during all games and contact training, all football teams in Quebec must have in attendance an individual having successfully taken (or having equivalent skills approved by the Federation) the newly developed “Football First-Aid” (Secourisme Football) certification – developed in partnership with the Red Cross, the Corporation des thérapeutes du sport du Québec, and the Conseil de médecine du sport du Québec (CMSQ).

This specialized training comprises elements related to: first-aid specific to the sport of football; current identification standards for concussions and return-to-play protocol; football equipment removal in order to facilitate ambulance / medical assistance.

Football Quebec has also established a Football First-Aid (Secourisme Football) program training schedule that is currently available for viewing and registration on the Federation’s website at www.footballquebec.com.

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NFL Looks at What Worked and What Didn’t in 2013

(Below is an excerpt for the NFL’s recently released Health and Safety Report)

“There is an undeniable improvement in protection of players when rules, technique and technology seamlessly integrate, making the game safer to play. NFL rules are regularly reviewed by the Competition Committee and adjusted to protect players from unnecessary risk and make gameplay safer. The development of a thoughtful and comprehensive set of rules designed to remove unnecessary risk from the game continues to be an evolving process and the league regularly evaluates how new rules can best be leveraged to address safety and health issues.2012-12-16 11.24.44

“Five rules focusing on reducing unnecessary player risk were enacted in 2013, in addition to the implementation of mandatory thigh and knee protective equipment. Each year, as rules and other changes such as schedule adjustments are enacted, injury data is closely monitored to gauge if the intended positive benefits are achieved. Last season, after an initial adjustment period in the preseason, all players suited up with the mandatory thigh and kneepads for the duration of the season.

“Also in the 2013 season, specific rules enacted to protect defenseless players and decrease hits to the head contributed to not only a decrease in concussions due to head-to-head impacts, but most significantly, a decrease in the total number of concussions over the entire season.

“New safety rules and the resulting adjustment in technique in the 2013 season contributed to a decrease in concussions. However, concussion rates could have increased as awareness and technology for detection advanced. Players and commentators expressed concerns that the adjustments to legal tackling technique could lead to an increase in leg injuries as defenders aimed hits lower on the body. But statistics show that the total number of ACL injuries in the 2013 season decreased slightly from the previous season, and MCL injuries remained flat. In 2014, the NFL is continuing to address concerns regarding leg injuries with more robust protective regulations. Improving techniques in response to rule changes resulted in player safety.

“The ability of players, coaches and officials to make fundamental adjustments to tackling techniques and other approaches to play is a testament to the continued shared commitment to football’s longstanding heritage of improvements to safety and competition through progressive evolution.”

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