Injured teens becoming an AFL trend - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injured teens becoming an AFL trend

By Sam Lienert 13/01/2009 04:15:50 PM Comments (0)

The AFL wants to know why so many of the nation's best aspiring young footballers are continually being sidelined by similar types of injuries.

AFL-AIS academy head coach Alan McConnell said many of the latest 30-member academy intake of 15 and 16-year-olds, who came together last month, have been unable to fully join the training program.

"We had 19 who had had a history of lower back, hip or groin injuries," McConnell said.

Worryingly, it is becoming a common scenario.

"That's about the average for elite young fellas, which I guess tells you a little bit about the society that they come from," McConnell said.

"I think the suggestion is that it's probably about over-use in footy, but maybe that's not necessarily the case.

"Maybe it's just about the nature of the fact that young boys these days don't climb trees and ride bikes quite so much."

The AFL was conducting research to try to get to the heart of the problem.

"I know when I inherited the program (in 2005) there was a whole lot of anecdotal evidence about this," said McConnell.

"What we're doing through the academy and through the AFL's research board is doing a whole lot of research around this to quantify exactly what the issues are."

He said one factor could be that while the youngsters worked on building their upper bodies, they were less aware of the need to work on "core stability".

Injury management and prevention has now become a big part of the academy program.

"In the past what would happen is you'd just get out there and play," he said.

"We're trying to educate them about how to manage their bodies best to be elite, we've got a bit of a way to go there, but we're on the path."

The academy has proved a successful launching pad for AFL hopefuls, with eight of the top 10 picks in November's national draft graduates of the program.

Many of the current intake could end up with the planned Gold Coast AFL team, which can take 12 17-year-olds born between January and April at this year's draft.

Fourteen of the 30-member academy squad fall into that category, with seven others eligible for this year's draft, while the remaining nine have to wait until 2010.

The Gold Coast have eight of the first 15 picks in the 2010 draft.

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