Football associations from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have issued new plans to prevent kids from heading a football during training.
The new guidelines, which will take effect immediately, apply to all age groups from under-18s – with a modified approach being taken for children between the ages of 12 to 16.
Whereas, teachers and coaches are being told that kids playing between the ages of under-7s to under-12s are no longer allowed to practice heading the ball in training. However, the rules do not apply to matches.
The new regulations have been put in place following research from the FIELD study, which shows that professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die from a neurodegenerative brain disease such as dementia or CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
The English FA, and their Scottish counterparts, are now the first European countries to actively enforce restrictions on heading a football, amid increasing concerns surrounding brain diseases in contact sports.
The FA have published a written heading guidance document which says, “In today’s modern game, children will play on smaller pitches, with less players and with the retreat line rule to encourage players to play through the thirds.
“There is now a greater emphasis at all levels to retain and love the ball and you will see very few headers in the game of Mini Soccer.
“Priority at this age is fun, engagement and the mastery of both the body and the ball.”