In children below the age of 14 years, there is a very little research relating to both epidemiology and the prevention of football injuries. 26 F-MARC recently conducted a prospective study over two seasons in the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The overall injury incidence was lower compared with that in youth players. Interestingly, children suffered from a relatively high percentage of fractures, bone stress and other injuries of the upper limbs. This data inspired the development of a targeted injury-prevention programme for children, the FIFA 11+ Kids.
As with the FIFA 11+ programme, the kids’ version was designed by a panel of international experts. There is a focus on:
- spatial orientation, anticipation, and attention particularly while dual-tasking (to avoid unintended contact with other players or objects);
- body stability and movement coordination (more general than specific);
- learning appropriate fall techniques (to minimise the consequences of unavoidable falls).
Improves functional performance
The FIFA 11+ Kids was first evaluated with regard to possible adaptations in movement skills and motor performance, and it was found that this warm-up programme improved dynamic balance and agility skills in children playing football. 27
A large randomised trial in four European countries with more than 4,000 kids (age range: 7-12) has shown an impressive injury reduction of about 50% in those teams practising the FIFA 11+ Kids as a warm-up. Match injuries were reduced by 31%, training injuries by 40%, lower extremity injuries by 41%, overall non-contact injuries by 55% and severe injuries by 56%. These findings reflect similar preventive effects of the FIFA 11+ programme in older youth male and female football players, and support the implementation of injury prevention via the FIFA 11+ in children playing football.