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Yukon becomes first in Canada to legislate soccer goal safety

As of May 1, Yukon will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to have laws regulating movable soccer goals.

As of May 1, Yukon will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to have laws regulating movable soccer goals.

The Yukon’s Movable Soccer Goals Safety Act was created in 2013, after a five-year-old in Watson Lake was killed by a dilapidated soccer goal. Regulations to accompany the law were just passed last week.

Owners of movable nets for public use are now required to inspect their goals twice annually - at the beginning of soccer season and one other time during the year - and keep records of the goals’ condition.

Goals must be located on a level surface and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Outdoor versions need to be anchored securely to the ground. The indoor variety must be secured to the floor, to the wall or with weights, depending on what the instructions say.

Each goal must have permanent bilingual labels telling people not to climb or hang off of it and to keep it anchored.

From now on, every goal in the Yukon needs to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials standards.

Those are standards requiring goals be made under modern conditions, with modern materials, from reputable manufacturers, explained Department of Education policy analyst Colin Macdonald.

The Department of Education is spending $150,000 to replace its entire stock of movable nets and bring them up to the new standard.

All the goals are estimated to be about 20 or 25 years old.

“They’re quite old and they’re made of welded steel,” MacDonald said. “Modern nets are made out of much lighter materials, they’re easier to move around and they have a much lower centre of gravity.”

Those 32 nets, which are largely found at the territory’s schools, represent the vast majority of movable nets in the Yukon. There are less than six others in the territory, according to Macdonald. Those all appear to meet the new standards already, he said.

In the summer of 2012, five-year-old Jaedyn Amann was playing on the outdoor soccer field at the high school in Watson Lake. A collapsible soccer goal - one that’s meant for indoor use - collapsed and struck her on the head.

She died of blunt force trauma.

The coroner’s investigation that followed revealed the goal, which was likely built sometime in the ‘80s, was rusty and missing screws, and was not anchored to the ground.

In tests, “the net collapsed easily by an adult applying the pressure of just one finger to the soccer goal,” according to the report.

After Amann died the Department of Education pulled all moveable soccer nets off the fields to be inspected.

Some were returned and properly anchored. Others were destroyed, said assistant deputy minister Cyndy Dekuysscher.

None of the new goals being purchased by the department are the collapsible variety, Dekuysscher said.

New legislation was recommended by the coroner after her investigation into Amann’s death.

Without other Canadian legislation to reference, Yukon consulted regulations in Australia and four U.S. states while writing its law, Macdonald said.

Collapsible goals are not explicitly mentioned in the regulations. But all goals must be used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, meaning indoor goals cannot be used outside, Macdonald said.

The regulations allow responsibility for goals to be transferred. The Yukon Soccer Association owns two goals at Porter Creek Secondary School. Education is planning to take over monitoring those goals, Macdonald said. The details of the deal are still being worked out.

Meanwhile, the department will be issuing a tender for the new soccer goals soon, said Dekuysscher.

The law gives owners until October to bring everything up to standards.

Contact Ashley Joannou at