Development central to JFA conference

The Japan Football Association (JFA) organised the 7th Football Conference Japan from 8 to 10 January 2011. Of the 63,000 licensed coaches in Japan, 900 representatives from all Japanese prefectures participated in the conference together with doctors and physiotherapists. The idea was to discuss the future development of the game and to promote football not only at the highest performance level but also at the level of recreational players as a health-enhancing leisure time activity.

In his presentation, Jean-Paul Brigger, the FIFA Technical Director and chairman of the Technical Study Group (TSG) 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, explained the TSG’s most recent findings to the attendees, praising the positive development of technical football observed in South Africa, which from a medical perspective might have contributed to the lower of number of injuries caused by physical contact in comparison to previous FIFA World Cups.

The FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak and Dr Mario Bizzini of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) shared their experience of the nationwide implementation of F-MARC’s first injury prevention programme “The 11+” in Switzerland and New Zealand with the participants, stressing the fact that nationwide implementation at all levels of play, if performed properly, will lead to a reduction in injuries. Scientific studies of F-MARC’s “The 11+” have shown a reduction in particularly severe and overuse injuries of at least 30 per cent.

In a separate session, all attending physicians and physiotherapists received not only theoretical information, but underwent practical instruction performing “The 11+” exercises under the guidance and supervision of Dr Bizzini and his Japanese colleagues.

The conference clearly evidenced the JFA’s commitment not only to continuously develop the game and improve quality but also to use the increasing popularity of the game in Japan to improve public health by promoting playing football regularly as an ideal physical activity for men and women from childhood to senior age. Prof. Dvorak indicated that based upon current research even persons aged between 60 and 70 years of age will benefit from regular physical exercise by playing football and stressed that “It’s never too late to start”.

The 11+ - a complete warm-up to prevent injuries” is the official F-MARC prevention programme that has proven its effectiveness in a large study of 2,000 female adolescent players in Norway. It is the advanced version of F-MARC’s original “The11”, which also achieved a reduction in injuries during a four-year nationwide implementation plan in Switzerland. These exercise-based injury prevention programmes are part of F-MARC’s “Football for Health” initiative which promotes football as an ideal leisure time activity to stay healthy and fit. This initiative also includes “The 11 for Health”, a programme that aims to improve children’s knowledge of disease prevention in a football environment.