UK football authorities ban children from heading footballs in training
The new guidance for youngsters aged 11 and under follows a report on ex-professional soccer players in Scotland, that found that they were 3.5 times more likely to perish from degenerative neurocognitive ailments such as Alzheimer’s than members of the general public.
While there’s not any evidence to imply that heading the ball would be to blame, the new rules will be introduced to mitigate any possible dangers, according to a statement in the English Football Association (FA), along with the Scottish and Northern Irish FAs.
“This updated going advice is a development of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and repetitive heading from youth football,” said Mark Bullingham, CEO of the English FA.
Kids will be able to head the ball in games.
“Our studies have shown that heading is uncommon in childhood soccer games, therefore this advice is an accountable development to our grassroots training without affecting the enjoyment that kids of all ages choose from playing the sport .”
The heading advice applies to all age categories with a ban on going in training among primary school children.
A graduated approach will be applied to into under-16 age groups.
The move was hailed by experts including Carol Routledge.
“While we do not yet know the cause or causes of the higher risk, limiting unnecessary heading into children’s football is a practical step that reduces potential dangers, ensuring that football remains as secure as you can in all forms,” explained Routledge.
“We will need to see more research in order to unpick any link between dementia and football threat but until we understand more, making sure the nation’s best loved game is played as safely as possible is a sensible approach.”
Brain injuries in soccer’s issue has garnered increasing attention in the last several decades, and one case in particular shone a spotlight on the risks of the sport.
At 59, in 2002, former British footballer Jeff Astle choked to death.
“The coroner and the pathologist clarified how badly damaged my daddy’s mind was,” his daughter Dawn told in 2019. “He discovered that there was considerable evidence of trauma to the brain that he said was comparable to the brain of this fighter. And he explained that the most important candidate for this trauma headed the footballs.
“In almost any other business, an inquest discovering for example dads would have had earthquake-like consequences for that specific industry,” said Dawn. “But not soccer. Soccer and its particular status of self-governing seem to twist itself it outside.”
European governing body UEFA is currently looking to release guidelines later in 2020.
In January researchers from the University of East Anglia also launched a new study that expects to better understand the link between developing dementia and playing soccer.
To be able to map their pace of decrease the project will test professionals, both male and female.
Using cutting edge technology, the project aims to detect indications long before obvious symptoms, such as memory loss.