Death of Toddler at Soccer Field Puts Equipment Safety in Spotlight

The recent death of a toddler at a soccer field has put field safety in the spotlight – and this time, it’s not about the turf.

A two-year-old was killed when a soccer goal blew over and struck her. The incident, which took place in Antioch, Tennessee, will result in field equipment coming under increased scrutiny.

According to news reports, the portable goal may not have been secured to the field, and a wind gust could have sent it sailing.

“It’s unfortunate, but if we get a 30 or 40 mph wind, and the goals are not anchored, it has the potential to flip over and be dangerous,” said Tim Heath, President of the Heartland Soccer Club in Nashville.

Heath said anchoring goal posts in several places is paramount, and told reporters he generally uses a ground anchor with a chain to pin the posts down so they don’t tip back or forward.

The Nashville Sports Leagues, which manages adult teams, doesn’t take any chances either.

“We have our maintenance team to have our sandbags inspected, we make sure there are sandbags on both sides of the goal post to make sure they’re held down properly,” said Kris Thompson, of the NSL.

There is still no word as to whether the goal that killed the child at the International Soccer Complex was anchored down. A release from the complex simply stated: “Our staff will be reviewing all of our safety guidelines, both on the field and off.”

There was similarly no statement as to whether the child was playing in a scheduled game or activity on the field, or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the tragically wrong time.

While it’s unfortunately known that spectators can be injured during games when balls fly out of bounds, players run overrun or bats splinter, the death of a child is a tragic anomaly. Unfortunately, as fields increasingly see use by multiple sports, the employment of portable equipment such as soccer goals becomes more common.

ASBA members should be aware of this case, and may wish to bring up anchoring options – as well as spectator safety and placement – with field owners.

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