New Zealand Football and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) combined to host a FIFA 11+ event at Wellington College on Monday morning.

Attending the event were representatives of both organisations, as well as FIFA, the FIFA Under-20 World Cup LOC and players from Wellington College and Rongotai College.

The event aimed to start getting New Zealand’s rising stars to think about preventing injuries and the impact injuries can have on their future.

FIFA 11+ is an injury prevention programme designed by world football’s governing body that centres around a warm-up which reduces the risk of injury in football.

With football growing in popularity in New Zealand, it is even more important to introduce a programme that is proven to reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 per cent and all injury by 30 per cent. ACC statistics show that in 2014 there were almost 43,000 claims for football related injuries.

Sid Miller, Chief Customer Officer at ACC, said: “If we can reduce that number by 30 per cent, that’s around 13,000 people who won’t have their season interrupted. It’s a huge opportunity with programmes like this to really make a difference. To make a difference, not just now, but for the future. Taking care of yourself now has huge benefits.

“It’s really important for us to support programmes like this and helping it grow.”

Dr. Mark Fulcher, Medical Director at NZ Football, used anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries as an example of how FIFA 11+ can help prevent serious injuries.

“If you tear your ACL it never heals completely again. Most people who play football at a high level who injure their ACL have an operation that takes them out of the game. It is the most common season-ending injury in the United States.

“There is the perception sometimes that injury is a part of sport. It doesn’t have to be. Injuries will always be there, but we can reduce the risk.”

Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA Chief Medical Officer, says the human suffering is huge. “On a global stage or scale with 300m football players it’s not small, it’s very big. We have to continue and enhance this collaboration in future. Our duty is to look after the health of you [the players] and continue allow you to play even at an older age. We have to keep football safe.”