THE WA Amateur Football League has become Australia’s first community football competition to introduce a concussion management policy.
The policy, specifically tailored for volunteer-based clubs without specialised medical staff, provides teams with guidelines to follow to ensure a player is safe to return to the field after receiving a head injury.
WA Amateur Football League board member Peter D’Alessandro, who spearheaded the policy, said it aimed to educate and take the pressure off players and volunteers while continuing to create a safer playing environment.
“The WAAFL prides itself in being at the forefront of amateur volunteer competitions and we felt we could put together a policy that was well suited to an amateur game staffed by volunteers,” he said
“While club volunteers like physiotherapists are trained in first aid and muscular-skeletal management, they often don't have the training to make decisions about head injuries.
“The policy is a simple, clear guideline that allows anyone without a medical background to follow.”
The introduction of the policy comes on the back of the mandatory concussion policy introduced by the AFL in 2011.
Under the AFL’s policy, any player who is concussed is not allowed to return to the field of play for the remainder of the game.
Mr D’Alessandro said the WA Amateur Football League consulted the AFL Medical Officers’ Association to assist with creating WAAFL concussion policy.
“The AFL Medical Officers’ Association provided the framework using the research it had done for the AFL policy,” he said
“We gave our suggestions on changes for a volunteer-based competition and worked with them to create the final product.
Under the WAAFL concussion policy, any player who has received a head injury must be assessed by a member the team’s personnel using the pocket SCAT 2 assessment tool – the same tool used to assess AFL footballers.
Any player who fails the SCAT2 assessment cannot return to the field of play and will have their name recorded by the umpires.
That player will then have to provide a medical clearance to the league before he can play again.
Mr D’Alessandro said WAAFL clubs had been unanimous in their support of the concussion policy.
“We presented the policy to clubs at the presidents’ meeting in March and received positive feedback,” he said.
“The policy won’t work unless the clubs decide to make it happen.
“The feedback from clubs that have been involved in incidents involving head injuries is that this would help them in their management of players.”