US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the country and the leader in youth soccer, announces a new major sports safety initiative. In collaboration with Mayo Clinic, powered by software technology partner InjureFree, and with guidance from the U.S. Center for SafeSport, US Youth Soccer is placing a renewed focus on player safety and wellness as a core responsibility by incorporating accessible technology.
As youth sport organizations struggle to balance player development and player safety, US Youth Soccer is taking a proactive “safety first” mindset with its members, administrators, and volunteers. That commitment begins by making available the US Youth Soccer Athlete Incident Management System (AIMS). The digital platform is designed, in part, to assist with the delivery and tracking completion of, state and federal safety education mandates for 600,000 volunteers and 3 million parents.
US Youth Soccer Chief Executive Officer, Chris Moore, says, “As the largest youth sports organization in America and the leader in youth soccer, US Youth Soccer has an incredible responsibility for the health and safety of our 3 million registered players. With the adoption of the Safe Sport Act earlier this year, we began searching for a solution to help our 57 organization members, including 55 state member associations, distribute the federally mandated trainings as well as the various state laws requiring concussion education.”
“The InjureFree platform reduces the associated administrative and logistical burdens and is a critical partner in establishing the gold standard for player health and safety for children as they participate in athletics in this country,” Moore adds.
Beginning fall 2018, US Youth Soccer organization members and their member clubs and leagues have had free access to the US Youth Soccer AIM System, which is powered by InjureFree. The risk management platform allows administrators to deploy, track, and certify completion of state and federally mandated education courses for all coaches, volunteers and parents throughout the country’s 10,000 youth soccer member clubs and leagues.
The following US Youth Soccer member state associations have committed to implementing the US Youth Soccer AIM System:
• Alaska Youth Soccer Association
• Arkansas State Soccer Association
• Colorado Soccer Association
• Connecticut Junior Soccer Association
• Delaware Youth Soccer Association
• Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
• Georgia Soccer
• Louisiana Soccer Association
• Missouri Youth Soccer Association
• Montana Youth Soccer Association
• Nevada Youth Soccer Association
• South Carolina Youth Soccer Association
• Tennessee State Soccer Association
• Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association
• Wyoming Soccer
“Providing easily-accessible abuse prevention education is imperative to creating safe and supportive playing environments for our nation’s athletes,” says Shellie Pfohl, CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. “The InjureFree platform is helping US Youth Soccer take a safety-first approach by helping 3 million families easily access important SafeSport training on how to identify and prevent abuse.”
InjureFree CEO, Charlie Wund, explains “White-labeling is an industry term for using something that’s already created - in this case, our InjureFree technology. By white-labeling InjureFree for US Youth Soccer, we’re able to provide a risk management system with a familiarity to end-users, where coaches and parents are more inclined to adopt new procedures with a recognized brand.”
“Compliance is about creating new behavior patterns. Understanding our user base is critical to successfully deploying a system of this magnitude,” Wund adds.
Aligning with national safety goals for the organization, US Youth Soccer members can now securely report all injury and safety incidents utilizing the new US Youth Soccer AIMS platform. In conjunction with delivering safety education, each participating member can customize their reporting levels, with many choosing to emphasize compliance with their individual state concussion laws and the documentation of suspected head injuries.
In response to injury and education components, having the world-renown Mayo Clinic as a medical resource is not just significant or critical, but groundbreaking for this level of sports.
“Concussion and other sport-related injuries continue to capture national headlines. Evaluation and management of concussion has changed drastically in the last decade, contributing to anxiety and confusion among athletes, parents, and even medical providers. Through this collaboration, US Youth Soccer athletes, coaches, and parents will have ready access to current, evidence-based concussion education and management information provided by Mayo Clinic experts. This will include concussion risk and prevention, identification of athletes who should be removed from play due to suspected concussion, what to do and expect in the early stages of recovery, and return to play,” states Dr. Jennifer Wethe, PhD, Co-Director, Concussion Program, Mayo Clinic Arizona. She continues “InjureFree’s technology allows for scalable delivery and providing personalized information to athletes and parents at the time they need it.”
While compliance with national and state laws is one factor behind the US Youth Soccer initiative, improving the standard of care for its families is an equally important consideration.
US Youth Soccer Chair, Dr. Pete Zopfi, says, “US Youth Soccer is committed to keeping kids safe while playing soccer and I am confident that the US Youth Soccer AIM System will play a significant role in our efforts to grow the game while supporting the national initiative to place a truly great team on the field when we host the World Cup in 2026.”
The costs associated with risk are everyone’s concern. Data collected by researchers from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007 indicates $5.4 billion dollars are spent in youth athletic injury costs, each year. By monitoring overall rates of reported injury for 3 million children, and working with healthcare providers to streamline access to care, US Youth Soccer families can expect a new level of safety and a refocused wellness experience.
“It’s establishing a new standard of care,” Wund says. “Today, parents demand a personal experience for their children, and expect immediate access to care when a child gets hurt. Once a US Youth Soccer member state association makes the decision to join the national initiative, we connect their clubs and teams with local health care providers, who are committed to delivering quality care and within 24 to 48 hours. That could be an existing partnered provider, or one vetted within the InjureFree network. Each state association has the autonomy to make its own choice.”
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