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Blind Hammer wants action not words a big problem



By David Griffith

Football administration is notorious for sitting on their hands unless it is a question of raking in the big bucks.

The inaction and lethargy they have applied to the question of brain injury in football is unforgiveable. The damage done by repeated blows to the head is no longer a mystery. the unequivocal evidence is in.

This issue has gained higher profile because five members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, including our own Martin Peters, have sadly developed dementia.

Unprotected heading of the ball, especially through hours of training during the week, alongside the hurly burly of matches is avoidably harming the brains of men playing football right now.

This is happening not just at the elite level but at all levels of the sport. In normal non lockdown times this damage would be happening at our schools, playgrounds and parks as well.

Now yet another talking shop has been announced. A parliamentary inquiry into the link between sport and long-term brain injury is being launched on Wednesday.
MPs will consider yet again, the links between head trauma and dementia, and how risks can be mitigated.

Yet this is no mystery requiring long hours of deliberation. 2 years ago, Canadian researchers showed how protective headgear could protect footballers from much of the impact of heading the ball.

Only a couple of weeks ago a BBC World Service documentary on Concussion in Sport, in their Fixing the World series, showed how protective headgear in a variety of sports, including football, could significantly reduce the risk of injury to the brain.

Forehead straps with crystal technology can provide a soft protective covering which, when coming into contact with the ball causes the crystals to instantly harden and provide protection to the brain.

Footballers like to think they are tough, but the reality is that their brains are soft, and floating in jelly. Every time they take a blow to the head they are shaking this soft brain in this jelly against the hard confines of their skulls. Each blow is potentially causing incremental or, in the worst case, catastrophic harm.

Footballers at all levels should be required to wear protective forehead straps now. For once we should use a precautionary principle now rather than sitting on our hands.

If youngsters see the stars they adore wearing the forehead straps in their team colours they will become as keen to wear these as they are to wear their club shirts.

A generation of younger sports fans will then avoid injury.

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About David Griffith

My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph. My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season. I became a season ticket holder in 1970. I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle. I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel. David Griffith aka Blind Hammer