Discussion urged on bodychecking in youth hockey

Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett is encouraging education and awareness about youth bodychecking.

Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett is encouraging education and awareness about youth bodychecking for parents, coaches and others involved in youth hockey.

In June, members will consider a resolution at the B.C. Hockey Annual General Meeting to raise the age of the introduction of bodychecking in youth rep hockey.

B.C. Hockey is encouraging members to let their associations know if they support raising the age.

“I played defense in hockey. Both of my sons played, I coached and I managed hockey teams, but I don’t pretend to be any sort of an expert. I just want parents and coaches to be aware of the medical information available today on the impact of bodychecking at a young age, so that they can make an informed decision,” Bennett said.

Wilf Liefke, president of BC. Hockey, urged local hockey associations to discuss this issue at their annual meetings this spring.

Many health organizations, including the B.C. Provincial Health Office, Canadian Paediatric Society, Rick Hansen Institute, B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Sport Med B.C., B.C. Health and Safety Council, and the Canadian Maternal and Child Health Network recommend that bodychecking should not be allowed in peewee (ages 11 to 12) level hockey.

“Increasingly medical research confirms that the adolescent brain is especially vulnerable to traumatic brain injury,” said  Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute.

“A growing body of research is also telling us that body checking in youth rep leagues is a major risk factor for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. It’s very important that minor hockey associations promote awareness among all parents, coaches and players with these facts.”