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Ex-National League's Francis Duku founds footballing injury support firm Our Game

calendario 25.04.2021
by: NonProFootball
  • Vanarama National
  • England
Ex-National League's Francis Duku founds footballing injury support firm Our Game

Football is a contact sport, and injuries affect careers at every level of the game. Alongside the global health crisis of COVID-19, British football experienced a huge injury crisis in recent months, as pre-season disappeared and fixture congestion intensified.

This hit the most vulnerable players the hardest, further down the sporting pyramid. National League and grassroots football, at the very limits of “elite sport” and beyond, relies heavily on the NHS. Semi-professional players also work outside of football to make a living. This places huge financial strain on injured players, a strain which Francis Duku sought to solve with his Our Game project.

Duku suffered a broken ankle playing for Gravesend early in his career, and his experiences since fuelled a drive to change healthcare in non-league football. The 6”4 defender describes pain, crushed dreams, healthcare delays and misdiagnoses throughout a long non-league career with spells at Maidenhead, Kingstonian, Ebbsfleet and Dulwich Hamlet.

According to their website, Our Game seeks to protect injured players in Duku’s position. In theory, the system wards off financial precarity, providing wage coverage and quality healthcare without delay. Crucially, it also offers counselling and preventative measures, so players avoid injury and safeguard their health on the pitch. If used right, this program could improve the sport as a whole, as healthy players improve teams, and fans thrive on their club’s successes.

Our Game uses a subscription model with tiers of coverage, all under £50 a month. It seeks to replace existing mandatory insurance models created by the FA, such as the National Game Insurance Scheme (NGIS). According to a 2016 report from The Guardian, the NGIS left some injured players without physiotherapy, surviving on £30 a week.

Francis Duke has long been a supporter of player welfare and protection in non-league football. Optimists among the National League fanbase will hope that Our Game works smoothly to protect players and improve the game.
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