Goalpost Safety - Play your Part
Pitchcare would like to take the opportunity to remind members and facility managers of The Football Association's goal post safety campaign that was launched in August 2000.
Tragically during the past few years, nine children including Jack Sheerin, a seven year old from West Yorkshire, and Jonathan Smith, an eleven year old from Essex have been killed by falling goalposts. The Football Association launched a major campaign in August 2000 aimed at highlighting goalpost safety throughout grassroots football. The drive comes after the deaths of nine children in accidents involving goalposts over the last few years.
Following the launch at Watford FC's Vicarage Road by F.A. Chief Executive Adam Crozier and England National Goalkeeping Coach Ray Clemence, 100,000 leaflets and posters, produced after consultation with the Government, the British Standards Institution and goalpost manufacturers, were distributed to schools, colleges, leagues and clubs throughout the game.
The campaign materials highlight the potential dangers of using goalposts without undertaking the necessary checks and precautions and are designed to attract as much attention as possible at local levels.
The F.A.'s campaign, which builds on guidelines circulated by the game's governing body in 1991 and 1999, identifies four easy-to-follow golden rules for the safe use of goalposts. These are:
* Check It - make sure goalposts are in good condition and properly constructed. Home-made goalposts never be used - they do not have built-in safety features and may be particularly hazardous for younger players.
* Secure It - goalposts of any size must be securely anchored to the ground. Portable goalposts must be pinned or weighted down to prevent them toppling forward, and should be removed from the pitch when not in use and stored securely.
* Test It - adults should test the goalposts to make sure they are stable by exerting a downward force on the crossbar, backward force on both upright posts and forward force on both upright posts.
* Respect It - goalposts should only be used for their intended purpose; in particular, children should not swing on them.
As well as launching the awareness campaign, The F.A. has been working to produce a Public Advisory Standard - a form of British Standard - for mobile goalposts, which joins an existing standard for fixed posts.
"This campaign is a vital part of our commitment to make safety a top priority in football at all levels," explained Adam Crozier. "Everyone involved with playing and organising football must play their part to ensure that the tragic accidents that have so disfigured the game in the past never happen again."
During the 2001/02 season, The Football Association carried out a programme of on-site inspection and testing of goalpost sets at a number of sites across the country. Some of the findings are as follows:
- Of all goals tested, 41% of mini-soccer goals, 50% of 5-a-side goals and 22% of junior goals failed stability tests
- Ground conditions can affect the stability of goals therefore it is important to liase with manufacturers on the appropriate ground fixings in relation to weather conditions
- Staff at every 2nd site were unaware of the safety campaign involving goalposts.
Through extending this campaign to the third year - with 250,000 leaflets going out to Clubs, Schools, youth groups, referees, coaches and leisure facilities across the country from the beginning of November 2002 - The FA is committed to raising this awareness and aims to create a safer environment for all football.
Brenda Smith, mother of Jonathan Smith who died in 1991 said recently:
"I have campaigned hard since the loss of my son, and the heartache it has given my family could so easily have been avoided. My constant concern is that the 'man down the street' will continue to make homemade goalposts and takes no notice of the safety guidelines.
"I would urge all parents to check goalposts before their child plays, to make sure that they are safe and secure, and to prevent any further needless accidents."
Under no circumstances should children use the goalposts as gymnastic equipment, and goalposts should not be used at all, unless they are in good condition, securely anchored to the ground, and are stable.
If you would like to receive copies of the leaflet for your organisation, please send an e-mail with your name, address and the quantity of leaflets you require, to: Emma.Clark@TheFA.com