The tragic death of a five-year-old girl in Watson Lake, Yukon has officials thinking about how to make soccer nets safer.
The girl died Wednesday after an unsecured soccer net tipped over on school grounds. She had been playing with friends with parents nearby. The net fell on the back of her head.
In response, the Yukon government is pulling all moveable soccer nets from school grounds in the territory, while it looks into safety issues.
Similar deaths caused by nets tipping over have happened elsewhere in the country including PEI, Ontario and Quebec.
"It's been recognized for a long period of time that goal posts that are improperly anchored can cause injury and in fact there are several recorded fatalities from falling goal posts," said Charles Tator, a Toronto-based neurosurgeon and founder of Think First Canada, a brain and spinal cord prevention agency.
An American organization, Anchored for Safety, lists more than 40 deaths from fallen soccer nets in North America in the past few decades.
In Montreal in 2001, a 14-year-old boy was killed after an unsecured soccer net fell on him causing a fatal head wound. The Quebec coroner’s inquest recommended all park soccer nets be anchored to the ground.
But in the Yukon no such policy exists.
"Specifically about soccer nets on school grounds we don't have anything, that's definitely something that would be looking at in the future as part of all our work to contribute to the safety," said Michele Royle of the Department of Education.
She said the department plans to do a safety assessment on every net.
Although the girl wasn't playing an official game the Yukon Soccer Association is urging its members to be careful.
President Johnny Nunan hopes an event like this never occurs again.
"Anyone going to any soccer pitch anywhere in the territory please check and ensure all posts and anchored properly," he said.
Jake Hanson, a coach in the Yukon, said the territory’s soccer world is aware of the safety concerns, but it hasn't been a problem before. He points out not all nets are the same.
"We are for the most part comfortable with this sort of net system, in part because they are locked down in the back. As a full-grown adult, it’s a bit of a challenge to push them over myself," he said.
"I don’t think we typically think about kids being able to topple them one way of another."
The Yukon RCMP and coroner's office are still investigating the girl’s death. The family requested that her name is not be released.