A footballer who was seriously injured in a head-on collision with concrete barriers during a match is now advocating for brain health and better safety within the game.
Alex Fletcher sustained near-fatal injuries in the incident during a match for Bath City in November 2022, and underwent major surgery to remove part of his skull.
After a ten-month recovery during which he was sidelined from football, he returned to the game in August – but is now keen to use his experience to push for enhanced player safety in football grounds, particularly in relation to pitch perimeters.
He has worked with the PFA and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to highlight the need for clearer guidance for clubs and enhanced safety measures.
Alex, who now plays for National League South club Weston-super-Mare AFC, has also joined the PFA’s Brain Health department, and will visit clubs and speak to players on a range of brain health issues.
The PFA’s Brain Health department, led by Dr Adam White, delivers education to players, clubs and staff around brain health, and lobbies international and domestic stakeholders to safeguard player brain health in both matches and training.
“The understanding of the relationship between brain health and playing football continues to grow, and that’s what I’ll be speaking to players about, sharing information and helping them build their personal understanding of this as an issue,” says Alex.
“From my own experience as a player, I know it always helps when the person who is speaking is someone who has experienced the same things and who has that understanding of the issues you face as a footballer.
“Obviously, I’m able to talk to players about what happened to me and how that sort of life-changing incident gave me a different perspective on my own brain health.
“I know that, as a young and healthy person, it’s not something people necessarily think about as potentially impacting them. I hope that these conversations will help other players begin to think about their own long-term health and wellbeing.”
PFA CEO Maheta Molango said: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome Alex to the PFA team. He is an impressive young man with a unique perspective on the importance of brain health.
“He has worked his way back from a major injury that has had a profound impact not just on his football career but also his life.
“He is motivated to use his position within the game for good and, as a current player, he’s someone who I know our members will be able to relate to.
“Alex will be going into clubs and working alongside our specialist team, presenting to players and leading conversations about the importance of brain health within football.”
The appointment of Alex is the latest step in the PFA’s efforts to tackle brain health and neurodegenerative disease, having launched a fund in September to assist former players and families who are affected by dementia and other brain conditions, following criticism that they had not offered financial support previously.
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