Ouch that hurts: Spotlight needs to remain on ACL injuries

It seems like every week when I tune back into the world of Twitter, another player has been struck down with a serious injury.

Leah Williamson is set to miss the World Cup because of an ACL injury. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA

The latest to hit was Leah Williamson being sidelined with, you guessed it, an ACL injury.

Maybe it’s the English in me that means it hits harder. The captain’s injury is coupled with Beth Mead racing a near impossible clock having suffered the same setback earlier in the season.

Of course Kyah Simon is the Aussie in the same predicament. She’s in a battle to be fit in time to play a World Cup on home soil, and she’s the player who could be a cherry on top for the Matildas’ attacking depth. There’s few others who have stood up during crunch games on the international stage to score a crucial goal as Simon has done.

There was a list floating around Twitter earlier this year with the women to have suffered an ACL injury in the past 18 months – and you could easily make a starting eleven out of it with subs to take on any team in the world.

And I say women because it is a disproportionate number of women who are copping career setbacks because of these injuries. 

Now we must keep the spotlight on the impact of ACL injuries in the women’s game, and to demand change.

As many have already said, if so many of the world’s best men’s players were out of a World Cup, all with the same injury, there would be an inquiry and millions of dollars thrown at the problem. To find a solution to prevent ACL injuries would be on the top of FIFA’s agenda, and that of every confederation, league and association.

The rise of the women’s game has seen the professionalism expected from players week-in and week-out rise with the increase of games and match intensity. 

Kyah Simon is the Aussie battling to return in time for the World Cup in July.

The growing professionalism and season structure reflecting the men’s game is a positive thing. This allows players to play professionally and not juggle other commitments purely to survive and play at a high level.

However, if women are expected to compete at the same level as the men – they need the resources and support attached with that sacrifice. If that comes down to an increase in gender-specific research for ACL prevention and rehab, then it’s time to do so.

One thing is certain: There will be less glitz and dazzle at the World Cup because key players will be unavailable because of the same injury, an ACL. 

In an ideal world the focus wouldn’t be on injury prevention heading into what is shaping up as one of the most exciting tournaments in Australia and New Zealand. But that mustn’t be the case now. Now we must keep the spotlight on the impact of ACL injuries in the women’s game, and to demand change.

If we don’t, it’ll be the same hushed conversations and tallying the injured on the eve of every major tournament. 

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