NZF tackling $25 million issue

The FIFA 11+ programme in action at the Auckland Football Federation Talent Centre. Photo by

Each year football injuries take thousands of players away from the game they love while costing the country around $25 million dollars a year. Yes, you read that right: $25 million dollars a year.

New Zealand Football will tackle the issue in 2015 with a nationwide rollout of the FIFA 11+ injury prevention programme in partnership with the ACC.

Headed by New Zealand Football Medical Director, Dr Mark Fulcher, the programme – designed by FIFA on the back of comprehensive research commissioned across all levels of the game – centres around a warm-up which reduces the risk of injury in football.

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“It’s a 20-minute warm-up designed to be done in place of a more standard warm-up and if we can do this twice a week we can reduce the risk of injury significantly,” Fulcher said.

“It really is a no-brainer, the programme has been studied extremely well and we know by using the warm-up we can reduce the risk of severe injury by 50 percent and reduce the risk of all injury by 30 percent.

“At a personal level, players obviously don’t like getting injured and New Zealand Football is concerned about the welfare of our playing group so it’s a simple, effective way we can look after our players.

“From a financial point of view, the cost to New Zealand of football-related injuries each year is about 25 million dollars and so if we can reduce the risk of injury it will provide a massive saving for the community.”

Mirroring work being done in some of the world’s top football nations, the delivery of the programme includes a series of workshops scheduled in each federation during the year while it has also been included in the schedule of New Zealand’s elite sides, coaching courses and as part of the code’s club development scheme.

“What we’re doing is very similar to what’s being done in Spain, Japan and Brazil and also at Barcelona so we’re in very prestigious company.

“We’re working closely with the Federations who have been integral in getting this programme off the ground.”

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Fulcher says the workshops will see participants leave as FIFA-certified instructors in the programme and that growing pool of people will be able to spread the word about injury prevention.

“Our goal for this year is to educate 500 trainers and we’re already down the path a little bit.

“Success will be seeing the FIFA 11+ being delivered at every club across the country. Over the next three years, as we continue this work with ACC, hopefully more and more players are doing the programme and we’ll see some tangible change in our injury statistics.”

With the weight of the studies undertaken by FIFA behind the rollout, New Zealand Football is also sharing the knowledge with other sports codes in the country.

“The type of study and the size of the studies that have been done are going to be difficult for other codes to replicate. We’re actively working with ACC, who have been a major supporter of this programme, to share some of that knowledge – particular with netball but also rugby and rugby league.”

All Whites Luke Adams and Storm Roux performing the FIFA11+ warm-up. Photo by

All Whites Luke Adams and Storm Roux performing the FIFA11+ warm-up. Photo by

Julie Foster, a local physiotherapist, attended the first workshop in Napier last week and is right behind the programme which provides a standard approach anyone can use.

“I found it very useful. I’m very supportive of being able to implement a standard programme that fits all people across age-groups, especially adolescents,” Foster said.

“I really support the principle of knees over toes and building core strength from the pelvis with alignment. It’s something we teach all the time and it’s really good to see it coming in at a coaching level.”

Central Football Federation Development Officer Ethan Dent says he found Wednesday’s workshop hugely beneficial and urged everyone connected to the game to get along when the rollout comes to town.

“The facts surrounding injury prevention were really exciting and when we went through the practical element I thought it was really worthwhile,” Dent said.

“To be honest I think it’s almost essential. You’ll learn a lot and you can develop your warm-ups to ensure your teams are as best prepared as possible.”

FIFA 11+ Federation Workshop Schedule

Central Football
Wednesday 11 March, 6pm-8pm
Port Hill Clubrooms, Marewa Park, Napier

Northern Football
Monday 16 March, 6pm-8pm
QBE Stadium, Albany

Football South
Wednesday 18 March, 6pm-8pm
Grants Braes Clubrooms, Dunedin
Click here to register

Capital Football
Monday 23 March, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Home of Capital Football, Memorial Park, Petone
Click here to register

Mainland Football
Wednesday 25 March, 7pm-9pm
ASB Football Park, Christchurch
Click here to register

WaiBOP Football
Monday 30 March, 6.30-8.30pm
Links Avenue Reserve, Tauranga
Click here to register

Auckland Football
Monday 13 April, 6.30pm-8.30pm
John Walker Lounge, Mt Smart Stadium
Click here to register

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