FA Bans Under 12s From Heading In Football Training
Primary School children will not be allowed to head the ball in football training after the FA brought in new measures to stop the potential risks of neurodegenerative disease.
The decision was made after a study revealed ex footballers were three times as likely to die from neurodegenerative disease than regular members of the public.
Matches are unaffected by the new rule, brought in by the Football Associations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, because heading is far rarer during games.
Today we've released new guidance for heading the ball in youth football training, providing support for coaches, teachers and parents.- The FA (@FA) February 24, 2020
Les Howie, our head of grassroots coaching, explains how the guidelines will work: https://t.co/rX10aE9A0f
In a statement about the new rule FA Chief executive Mark Bullingham said, "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.
"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."
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Former England international Jeff Astle died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 2002, with the coroner ruling the issue had been caused by heading a football in his career.
Daughter Dawn, who has campaigned to ban heading in the game, was happy with the news. "We must take early steps to avoid exposing children's brains to risk of trauma," she told Sky News, "And by saying there's no heading in training for primary school children is a really sensible way to make the game we all love safer for all those involved."
In the new guidance, there will be no heading allowed for 6-11 year olds, for 12-15 year olds it is a 'low coaching priority' meaning that is can be introduced but remain limited, and 16-17 year olds it must be limited to one training session a week.
As well as the health aspects of the new rules it could also lead to more passing and attractive football in the future with more time spent on more of the technical aspects of the game and away from the physicality of heading.