Call for harsher penalties

Canning Vale Senior Football Club president Stewart Johnston. d422723
Canning Vale Senior Football Club president Stewart Johnston. d422723

Johnston called for safety measures after 23-year-old Canning Vale player Damian Waight was left critically injured after an on-field bump during a game last month.

Better training and focus for umpires on head-high contact was needed and he wanted a green card to be introduced for minor infractions by players, including harsher penalties for those who caused injury, and games to be called of.

There should be new rules in place so club umpires could not umpire home club games.

Current penalties imposed by the Australian Football League were too light, Johnston said, and did not act as a deterrent to stop players critically injuring others.

‘My club and committee really want to help raise the focus of head high contact in AFL football by both umpires and players in the hope that in future no one else goes through this,’ he said.

The WAAFL suspended the player who bumped Waight for three weeks and declared the match a draw.

WAAFL general manager David Armstrong said the league promoted the prevention and treatment of head-high contact for several years. ‘A player’s welfare is always our number one concern and the rules of the game are designed to prevent injuries and ensure that the head is sacrosanct,’ he said.

‘We acknowledge risks associated with playing a contact sport but take measures to minimise these risks wherever possible.’