Cunningham attempts to assess the degree of first aid qualification and competence among youth soccer officials who are responsible for dealing with injuries to players aged 8 to 15 years. The author used a questionnaire, sent to 250 officials in two youth soccer leagues, to determine qualifications and test the respondent's ability to deal with fictitious injury scenarios. There is not a great deal of previous research on this subject - and given the potential seriousness of the subject, this type of study is extremely useful.
The findings of Cunningham are alarming. Fifty two of 86 respondents did not have a current first aid qualification. Only 12% and 38% respectively gave the correct response to the injury scenarios describing a player choking and a player unconscious. Health and injury records for the players were kept by 40% and 19% of teams in the respective leagues. Written parental consent to emergency treatment was obtained by 30%. The study suggests that the standard of emergency medical care at grassroots soccer activities in the UK is poor.
The author concludes that youth soccer organisations should think carefully about their legal and moral responsibilities to players and their parents. Furthermore, the governing body for soccer in England, The Football Association and the UK government's Health and Safety Executive should produce a list of recommended equipment, facilities, and first aid qualified personnel to which teams should have access at games and training sessions.
A questionnaire is a reliable method of collecting data as all respondents are asked standardised questions. However in a multiple choice response format there may be ambiguity. This can cause the respondent to tick the wrong response because they misunderstood the question - not because they lacked knowledge. The low response rate, typical of a questionnaire study, means that the findings may not be representative of the selected sample. Further research of this nature, but on a wider scale should be undertaken by The FA to more accurately ascertain the level of care in grassroots soccer.