Foot­ball NL pres­i­dent re­sponds to Compass ed­i­to­rial

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Brian Hughes is the pres­i­dent of Foot­ball NL

To be fair and re­spon­si­ble to the fam­i­lies of the more than 125 boys and girls who have cho­sen to play foot­ball here in New­found­land and Labrador since 2013 I be­lieve it is in­cum­bent upon me to re­spond to The Compass’ ed­i­to­rial of May 18.

Your open­ing para­graphs do a great ser­vice to our sport. The ex­cite­ment gen­er­ated by last year’s Su­per Bowl, to say noth­ing of the pres­ence of one of the game’s par­tic­i­pants (Sea­hawk Tight End Luke Will­son) at our May 1-2 clinic, speaks vol­umes to fans here at home both young and old. I am sure you would not be sur­prised by the num­ber of “30 some­things” who say: “I wish this game was here when I was a kid”.

How­ever I take ex­cep­tion to the em­pha­sis you place on the need for cau­tion by par­ents par­tic­u­larly as it per­tains to con­cus­sions. Foot­ball should not be sin­gled out when it comes to class ac­tion law­suits as the Na­tional Hockey League is cur­rently em­broiled in a sim­i­lar suit. The “bad old days” of play­ers re­turn­ing to the field/ice af­ter a se­ri­ous blow to the head has vir­tu­ally come to an end. Our coaches are trained to, as you say, to “teach th­ese play­ers how to ap­pro­pri­ately make a tackle” (and how to make a block).

All of our coaches are man­dated by Foot­ball Canada to com­plete a pro­gram ti­tled “Mak­ing Head­way in Foot­ball” (a con­cus­sion aware­ness pro­gram). All foot­ball coaches in Canada must now com­plete a 10-12 hour course in Safe Con­tact which trains them how to teach the ap­pro­pri­ate method of block­ing and tack­ling — tak­ing the head out of the game.

Par­ents are made aware that a con­cus­sion, in and of it­self, is a se­ri­ous in­jury. But, to re­ceive a sec­ond con­cus­sion prior to fully re­cov­er­ing from the first is even a greater in­jury. Foot­ball NL has a very strict pro­ce­dure that re­quires a player to com­plete a spe­cific “re­turn to play” reg­i­men af­ter re­ceiv­ing a con­cus­sion. We are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing a pro­gram that would pro­vide each in­di­vid­ual player with a base­line as­sess­ment that would be re­ferred to when he/she is re­cov­er­ing from a con­cus­sion.

Let’s fo­cus on the benefits of foot­ball. The teach­ing of dis­ci­pline, team­work, skill ac­qui­si­tion and fun in a sport that is new to our young peo­ple.

Let’s her­ald the fact that foot­ball pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for boys and girls of all heights/weights; fast or not so fast; tall or short to find a niche.

Let’s en­cour­age the play­ers to dream of play­ing the game at an­other level—27 uni­ver­si­ties (as well as ju­nior and ju­nior col­leges) play the game in this coun­try alone AND foot­ball is a game at which fresh­men ac­tu­ally have a chance of mak­ing a ros­ter.

Foot­ball is a great game that has been played in Canada and the U.S. for more than a cen­tury. It’s now back here in New­found­land and Labrador. Let’s be cham­pi­ons for its suc­cess­ful growth and con­tin­u­ance. We’ll be back in CBN in the fall.

It was once said: “If you build it, they will come.” We’ll, we’ve built it. We in­vite you to come.

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