Media Release

SA Football Commission supports new 21-day concussion protocol

Tuesday, March 26

The South Australian Football Commission today supported new AFL Guidelines for the Management of Concussion across community football and SANFL State League competitions.

This will see a minimum 21-day return to play protocol introduced for the 2024 season across the SANFL and SANFLW competitions, as well as all affiliated community football leagues in SA.

The earliest that a player suffering a concussion can return to play is on the 21st day post the concussion incident provided they get medical clearance.

The amendments to the return to play protocols are in line with the recent Australian Institute of Sport’s Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement regarding return to play protocols post-concussion.

They will align SANFL to all other community football and State League competitions in the nation.

SANFL Chief Executive Officer Darren Chandler said the health and safety of all players at every level of football in South Australia was a priority.

“The wellbeing and safety of players is paramount and we will continue to take the advice from the AFL and medical and scientific professionals to deal with the important topic of concussion,” he said.

“We are also committed to supporting all clubs and their volunteers with the management of concussion and will continue to work closely with the AFL as well as community leagues and clubs.”

 AFL and AFLW players competing in the SANFL and SANFLW competitions will follow the AFL and AFLW return to play protocols which has a mandatory minimum 12-day return to play guideline.

However, SANFL-listed players for Adelaide and Port Adelaide will come under the 21-day return to play protocol.

Mr Chandler said that after consideration of the AFL guidelines, the Commission acknowledged the AFL’s recommendations, that AFL and AFLW players had the benefit of “Advance Care Settings” to closely monitor their recovery and progression through the minimum 12-day protocol, before returning to play in the SANFL or SANFLW competition.

“The reality is that AFL listed players can receive daily monitoring and advanced medical care at the professional elite level of football,” he said.

“However, for SANFL players, the minimum 21-day return to play protocol provides a more extensive safeguard, requiring a longer minimum rest and recovery period.”

 The amendments to the 2024 SANFL and SANFLW concussion guidelines will take effect from the start of the Hostplus SANFL League season which begins this week with Opening Round matches from Thursday, March 28, and from Round 5 of the Hostplus SANFL Women’s League on Friday, March 29.

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