Yukon Soccer goal safety measures officially enshrined in legislation

May 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features

Much of what’s included in the new legislation focussing on the safety of soccer goals has already been addressed, says the president of the Whitehorse Minor Soccer Association.

By Chuck Tobin on April 29, 2016

Much of what’s included in the new legislation focussing on the safety of soccer goals has already been addressed, says the president of the Whitehorse Minor Soccer Association.

Grant Zazula said this morning he does, however, welcome the legislation.

“For us, I think the important thing about this is it just shows this government is committed to putting the resources in place to ensure our kids’ safety in soccer,” he said.

Zazula said requirements included in the legislation, such as making sure anchors for outdoor nets meet accepted safety standards, have been in place since interim measures were implemented in 2013 following the tragic death of a young Watson Lake girl.

Having the safety requirements enshrined in legislation solidifies the government’s commitment to safety, he said.

“It’s not going to change the way things are operating,” he said. “It’s just going to make sure leagues like ours follow regulations.”

The government issued a press release Thursday noting the new legislation was passed last week.

“The Movable Soccer Goal Safety Regulation ensures all Yukoners can safely participate in the sport of soccer,” says the release.

“The new regulations reflect the Yukon government’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Yukoners, including children and students,” Education Minister Doug Graham said the release. “The standards will help to ensure the safe installation, inspection, use and maintenance of moveable soccer goals in Yukon.”

Interim safety measures were implemented in March 2013, following the July 4, 2012 death of five-year-old Jaedyn Amann-Hicks. Amann-Hicks died after a soccer goal fell on her while she played in a field with friends at the Watson Lake Secondary School.

The coroner found the goal was intended for indoor use, was in poor condition and was not anchored to the ground.

The news release notes the regulation applies to any movable soccer goals available for public use that weigh more than 18 kilograms. It requires movable soccer goals to meet the strict manufacturing standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The new standards also include requirements for the size of netting, labelling, storage, usage, inspection, maintenance and anchoring of goals. These standards will ensure that movable soccer goals are set up and anchored properly, reducing the risk of goals tipping and causing injury.

The Yukon government will be investing $150,000 to replace any of the Department of Education’s movable soccer goal equipment that do not meet these standards. The new regulation comes into effect on May 1, with the exception of the requirement that regulated goals meet ASTM standards. As of October 1, all regulated goals in Yukon must meet ASTM manufacturing standards.

The Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act was passed on May 16, 2013, with interim safety measures put in place by the Department of Education and the Yukon Soccer Association for the use of this equipment. The new regulation is similar to the interim measures and is the result of an extensive public engagement process that took place from April to June 2015 with First Nations governments, Yukon municipalities, recreation and soccer associations, Yukon schools and the Yukon Coroner’s Office.

“The regulation addresses the recommendations by the Office of the Yukon Chief Coroner and what we heard from many of our partners and stakeholders,” said Graham. “We thank everyone for their contributions to this regulation and their dedication to the safety of all Yukoners, especially our students and children.”

The new legislation, for instance, requires bilingual signage warning against climbing or hanging on the goal.

The Whitehorse soccer president said the new regulations will not have an impact on the start of this year’s outdoor season Monday, as the required safety measures have been in place since 2013.

“We want soccer as accessible as possible for all kids, and we want it to be safe for all kids,” Zazula said. ‘Having these requirements in legislation and regulations just solidifies that commitment to safety.”

Minor soccer, he said, has the largest number of participants of any sport in the Yukon.

He said registration for this spring’s outdoor season filled up in no time, for all ages.

That speaks to how popular soccer has become, and not just in the Yukon but across Canada, and it’s still growing, he said.

Zazula said its popularity is rooted in affordability for families and the growing profile of international soccer.

“There are kids in Whitehorse who identify with players in Barcelona (Spain),” he said.

Zazula said he sees more kids wearing jersey’s worn by their soccer heroes than he does kids wearing Sidney Crosby sweaters.

There are close to 800 players signed up for the Whitehorse outdoor soccer season. Even the wait lists are full.

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