Background Football in Kenya is not only a leisure activity, but also a tool for community and individual development. Studies on injury risk in female youth football players in Africa are limited.
Objective To analyze the incidence, characteristics and circumstances of injuries.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting A two-day female youth football tournament in Nairobi, Kenya.
Participants A total of 938 players from 69 teams participated in the tournament. All players were included in the study.
Main outcome measurements Any physical complaints incurred by a player during a match were registered by trained Kenyan injury reporters. The injury reporters were supported by four physiotherapists and two doctors. All complaints were registered regardless of their consequence.
Results A total of 123 injuries were reported from 106 matches. The incidence of all injuries was 93.3 injuries/1000 h (95% CI 76.8 to 109.8). Most injuries allowed the players to continue to play (n=98; 81%). Players under the age of 13 (RR=2.16; 95% CI 1.34 to 3.47; p=0.002) and 16 (RR=2.17; 95% CI 1.35 to 3.50; p=0.002) had an increased risk of injury compared to those over 16. Eight injuries (7%; 6.1 injuries/1000 h; 95% CI 1.9 to 10.3) were expected to result in absence from play of 1–7 days. The injuries most commonly involved the lower limb (n=100; 82%). A contusion to the ankle (n=15; 12%) and foot/toe (n=15; 12%) were the most common specific injury types. Most acute injuries (89 of 113, 79%) were caused by player contact.
Conclusion The incidence of injuries among female youth football players in a national tournament in Kenya was high, with players under the age of 13 and 16 at greatest risk. However, most injuries were minor and did not prevent continued participation in the tournament. This can be seen as positive, as football plays a vital role in individual and community development in Kenya.