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Headway welcomes government summit on brain injury in sport

Tue 02 Feb 2021

Headway – the brain injury association has welcomed the news that the government will hold a summit into the problem of brain injury in sport, with the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, labelling it a ‘looming problem for British sport’.

The government hopes that by holding the summit, it can ensure greater collaboration between sports when it comes to research and determining ‘the extent of health impacts of occupational injuries from contact sports’.

Mr Dowden said: “The safety and wellbeing of everyone taking part in sport is absolutely paramount.

“I am worried that this could become a looming problem for British sport, so it's right we come together, look at the evidence and processes we have and agree a way forward to protect the stars of today and tomorrow.

“Everyone involved has a love for their sport and I hope by convening this forum we can work collaboratively on this important issue.”

The first virtual meeting will take place on Tuesday 2 February and seek evidence from those with lived experience of brain injury in sport. Various sports will be represented, with campaigner Dawn Astle among the attendees.

Dawn, daughter of former West Brom and England centre forward Jeff Astle, has been invited to take part in order to share her family’s experience of Jeff’s early-onset dementia, the cause of which was identified as ‘industrial disease’ after his death in 2002 at the age of 59.

Ahead of the summit meeting, Dawn said: “My family and I have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness and understanding of the link between head injuries and dementia, as well as the short-term risk of concussion.

“At times it’s been a real challenge to get people to listen. But charities like the Jeff Astle Foundation and Headway, along with the work of researchers and other campaigners, are making a difference. We do now have some momentum and an opportunity to improve things, particularly if governing bodies listen and show a willingness to make sport safer.

“I hope tomorrow’s meeting will be another positive step forward.”

Reacting to news of the summit, Luke Griggs, Headway Deputy Chief Executive, said: “For years, Headway has campaigned for sport to be more proactive in the way it deals with head injuries.

“This is not a ‘looming problem’ for British sport; it is an issue that has been prevalent for years and needs addressing now.

“We welcome the government’s intervention, but this summit has to result in meaningful change. We look forward to concrete plans for achieving this emerging from the meetings.”

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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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