Centre for Football Research releases annual report on impact of projects 

The Football Association of Wales Centre for Football Research has published a review of the work that it has undertaken throughout 2023/2024 and provides several case studies on the impact of the partnership with the Welsh Institute of Performance Sciences (WIPS) and Sport Wales.

The mission of the Centre for Football Research is to engage in high quality research and innovation, generate research funding, and to develop research collaboration that supports the FAW in the achievement of its High Performance Strategy. 

In doing so, the Centre aims to provide research driven solutions that facilitate the development and performance of players, coaches, and performance staff throughout Wales and internationally. The multidisciplinary research conducted by the Centre seeks to inform best practice in player welfare, coach education, participation, and health-related factors.

Dr David Adams, the FAW’s Chief Football Officer and Technical Director, said: “Alongside our Head of the Centre For Football Research, Professor Brendan Cropley, the FAW have resourced a full-time research assistant role to support our internal high performance leadership teams to better understand and further enhance our knowledge to drive high performance across our Men’s and Women’s national teams. 

“This resource has been valuable in demonstrating and disseminating our research findings, which has subsequently supported translational impact across our strategic priorities.”

One project assessed the return to play (RTP) guidelines for female athletes following anterior cruciate ligament injury. The aim of the project was to develop a RTP protocol for female players with a view of improving the success of the rehabilitation process and enhancing female players’ chances of long-term international success in both the national age group teams and ultimately the Cymru Women’s National Team. 

The project consisted of performing a critical review of existing literature to inform the creation of a RTP report for female international players across age groups within the FAW. The project team explored the guidelines and recommendations provided within the sport science literature for returning a player to their previous levels of functioning following an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The team investigated the most effective testing strategies for monitoring and evaluating a player’s RTP journey. 

As a result, a four stage process for ACL rehabilitation was established and the process has been adopted across the Women’s and Girls international age groups. 

Professor Brendan Cropley and Dr David Adams

Another key project undertaken by the Centre for Football Research is the Women and Girls’ talent development pathway. The FAW developed a talent programme in which regionally selected academy teams at U14 and U16 level have been integrated into age-appropriate men’s licensed academy competitions at U13 and U14 level. 

The aim of this was to increase the amount and level of competition talented female players experience and facilitate their progression into the senior levels of the game.

The findings from this project have enhanced the understanding of potential benefits of improving women’s and girl’s talent development pathways. The feedback from this project has supported the evolution of this programme, which has now adopted a professional academy model in which players experience day-release from school to increase the amount of contact and training time. 

Speaking about the collaboration, Professor Brendan Cropley, commented: “The FAW Centre for Football Research has continued to work collaboratively with FAW performance staff, practitioners, and researchers from UK-based institutions of Higher Education to identify and address performance driven research questions.

“The projects that have been supported by the Centre have been multi-faceted, covering programme evaluations, psychological demands and performance, mitigating injury risk, injury rehabilitation and return to play, coach-analyst linguistics, physical literacy and movement skills in youth players, understanding periods of peak physical output in international football, and the cognitive impact of heading the ball.

“In affiliation with WIPS and its Research Steering Group, the Centre has facilitated collaborations between the FAW and its performance staff with world- leading experts in their respective subject areas to ensure that the research insights constructed are rigorous, robust, and have a positive impact.” 

The full Centre for Football Research Annual Report is available below, including more information about the Centre itself. 

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Annual Report 2023/2024

FAW Centre for Football Research

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