No more headers in youth matches as FA outlaws primary school children from heading in training to mitigate risk of dementia

The FIELD study did not state that heading a ball was the reason behind the increased prevalence of degenerative neurocognitive disease among footballers but the FA said the decision was taken to mitigate any potential risks.

Reuters February 25, 2020 09:08:33 IST
No more headers in youth matches as FA outlaws primary school children from heading in training to mitigate risk of dementia
  • Heading the ball in training sessions has been outlawed for primary school children under the age of 12 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the FA’s updated "heading guidance" for the game.

  • The FA said the new guidelines will take effect immediately but it will not recommend an end to headers during youth matches.

  • The FA confirmed the updated heading guidance has been produced in line with UEFA’s medical committee, which is seeking to publish Europe-wide guidelines later this year.

Heading the ball in training sessions has been outlawed for primary school children under the age of 12 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the Football Association’s updated “heading guidance” for the game.

The English, Northern Irish and Scottish Football Associations said in a statement on Monday that they are also set to use a "graduated approach" to headers for 12 to 16-year-olds at grassroots level with immediate effect.

No more headers in youth matches as FA outlaws primary school children from heading in training to mitigate risk of dementia

Representational image. AP

The heading guidelines follow last year’s publication of Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk (FIELD) study undertaken by Glasgow University, which found former professionals were at more risk of dementia.

The FA said the new guidelines will take effect immediately but it will not recommend an end to headers during youth matches.

“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,” FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said.

“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 FIELD study did not state that heading a ball was the reason behind the increased prevalence of degenerative neurocognitive disease among footballers but the FA said the decision was taken to mitigate any potential risks.

The FA confirmed the updated heading guidance has been produced in line with UEFA’s medical committee, which is seeking to publish Europe-wide guidelines later this year.

Dr Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, welcomed the new guidelines but said the sport’s governing bodies must go further to find any potential links between football and dementia.

“The recent FIELD study highlighted an increased dementia risk for ex-professional footballers in Scotland,” she said.

“While we don’t yet know the cause or causes of this increased risk, limiting unnecessary heading in children’s football is a practical step that minimises possible risks, ensuring that football remains as safe as possible in all forms.

“We need to see more research in order to unpick any link between football and dementia risk but until we know more, making sure the nation’s best loved game is played as safely as possible is a sensible approach.”

Updated Date:

also read

Liverpool vs Manchester City, Community Shield: TV channel, Live Streaming, Kickoff time
Football

Liverpool vs Manchester City, Community Shield: TV channel, Live Streaming, Kickoff time

Here's all you need to know regarding when and where to watch the FA Community Shield final between Liverpool and Manchester City

Lionel Messi, Neymar score as PSG win Champions Trophy
Football

Lionel Messi, Neymar score as PSG win Champions Trophy

Lionel Messi opened the scoring and Neymar scored twice as French champion Paris Saint-Germain beat French Cup winner Nantes 4-0 to win the Champions Trophy on Sunday.

Barcelona reach agreement to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla
Football

Barcelona reach agreement to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla

France centre-back Jules Kounde has agreed a move to Barcelona from Sevilla, both clubs announced on Thursday, without giving details on the length or cost of the deal.