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Three UK Football Associations Ban Under 12s From Heading The Ball

Three UK Football Associations Ban Under 12s From Heading The Ball

The football associations of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have all issued new guidelines restricting children from heading the ball.

The restrictions will be put in place for all age groups under 18, but under 12s will be banned from heading the ball entirely during training.

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The new rules will not apply to matches, but will come into effect immediately.

This development comes after research has shown that former footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from brain diseases such as dementia.

For children between the ages of 12 and 16, there will be a graduated approach to how much heading can be done in training.

Kids under 12 will no longer head the ball in training. Credit: PA
Kids under 12 will no longer head the ball in training. Credit: PA

Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of England's governing body, The FA, told BBC News: "This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.

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"Our research has shown that heading is rare in youth football matches, so this guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game."

The research in question was performed by the University of Glasgow and published last October. The study found that former football professionals were much more likely to die from degenerative brain disease, and five times more likely to die as a result of Parkinson's disease.

While there was no evidence in that research that linked the increase in likelihood to heading the ball, these new guidelines have been put in place to 'mitigate against any potential risks'.

The Scottish FA's chief executive Ian Maxwell spoke of a 'duty of care' that the organisation owes to young people, and how their wellbeing was paramount.

He said: "The updated guidelines are designed to help coaches remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football in the earliest years, with a phased introduction at an age group considered most appropriate by our medical experts."

Jeff Astle died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by heading footballs in 2002. Credit: PA
Jeff Astle died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by heading footballs in 2002. Credit: PA

Patrick Nelson, who holds the same position at the Irish FA, which governs football in Northern Ireland, added: "Our football committee has reviewed and approved the new guidelines. As an association we believe this is the right direction of travel and are confident it will be good for the game, and those who play it."

A similar ban has been in place since 2015 in the United States of America.

Dr John McLean, an SFA employee who participated in the study, said: "I am proud that the Scottish FA has taken a positive, proactive and proportionate approach to the findings of the field study.

"Scottish football has taken a lead of the subject of head injury and trauma in sport, from becoming the first country in the world to produce cross-sport concussion guidelines, to having one of the best medical education programmes in sport."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, uk news, Interesting, Health

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother. Contact Tom on [email protected]

 

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Three UK Football Associations Ban Under 12s From Heading The Ball

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