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Injury incidence and burden in a youth elite football academy: a four-season prospective study of 551 players aged from under 9 to under 19 years
  1. Olivier Materne1,2,
  2. Karim Chamari1,
  3. Abdulaziz Farooq1,
  4. Adam Weir1,3,4,
  5. Per Hölmich1,5,
  6. Roald Bahr1,6,
  7. Matt Greig7,
  8. Lars R McNaughton7,8
  1. 1 ASPETAR, Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  2. 2 Aspire Health Centre, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar
  3. 3 Sport medicine and exercise, clinic Haarlem (SBK), Haarlem, The Netherlands
  4. 4 Erasmus MC, Department of Orthopaedics, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5 Sports Orthopaedic Research Center, Copenhagen (SORC-C) - Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager-Hvidovre, Denmark
  6. 6 Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  7. 7 Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK
  8. 8 Department of Sport and Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Science, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Olivier Materne, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar; olivier.materne16{at}


Objective Investigate the incidence and burden of injuries by age group in youth football (soccer) academy players during four consecutive seasons.

Methods All injuries that caused time-loss or required medical attention (as per consensus definitions) were prospectively recorded in 551 youth football players from under 9 years to under 19 years. Injury incidence (II) and burden (IB) were calculated as number of injuries per squad season (s-s), as well as for type, location and age groups.

Results A total of 2204 injuries were recorded. 40% (n=882) required medical attention and 60% (n=1322) caused time-loss. The total time-loss was 25 034 days. A squad of 25 players sustained an average of 30 time-loss injuries (TLI) per s-s with an IB of 574 days lost per s-s. Compared with the other age groups, U-16 players had the highest TLI incidence per s-s (95% CI lower-upper): II= 59 (52 to 67); IB=992 days; (963 to 1022) and U-18 players had the greatest burden per s-s: II= 42.1 (36.1 to 49.1); IB= 1408 days (1373 to 1444). Across the cohort of players, contusions (II=7.7/s-s), sprains (II=4.9/s-s) and growth-related injuries (II=4.3/s-s) were the most common TLI. Meniscus/cartilage injuries had the greatest injury severity (95% CI lower-upper): II= 0.4 (0.3 to 0.7), IB= 73 days (22 to 181). The burden (95% CI lower-upper) of physeal fractures (II= 0.8; 0.6 to 1.2; IB= 58 days; 33 to 78) was double than non-physeal fractures.

Summary At this youth football academy, each squad of 25 players averaged 30 injuries per season which resulted in 574 days lost. The highest incidence of TLI occurred in under-16 players, while the highest IB occurred in under-18 players.

  • epidemiology
  • paediatrics
  • Soccer
  • football
  • injuries

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The first sentence in the methods section has been amended.

  • Contributors OM, AF, MG and LRM designed the investigation. All data collection was achieved and/or supervised by OM. The data analysis and interpretation were achieved by OM, AF, AW, PH, RB and KC. The burden tables were designed by RB. The draft of the article was completed by OM and the critical revision of the article was performed by KC, AF, AW, PH, RB, MG and LRM. Final submitted version was suggested by OM and final approval of the version to be published was provided by KC, AF, AW, PH, RB, MG and LRM.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.