Brain disease: Pupils Banned from Heading Ball in England

Children of primary school age will no longer head the ball in football training, as part of new rules aimed at reducing the possibility of brain disease.

As part of the new guidelines, announced by the Football Associations of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland on Monday, children under the age of 12 will no longer head the ball in training.

The Welsh Football Association said that its rules on heading were being reviewed and would be updated later this year.

The regulations on heading will be staggered between the ages of 12 and 16, though matches, where the FA says heading is relatively rare, will be exempt from the changes.

The new rules were introduced after a Glasgow University study, which showed that former footballers were three and a half times more likely to die from brain disease.

Announcing the changes, the FA said the new guidance will be introduced immediately.

“It will provide grassroots clubs, coaches and players with the recommended heading guidance for training sessions only.

“The guidance does not make any changes to the way matches are played,’’ the FA said in a statement.

The FA pointed out that there was no evidence in the study to suggest that heading the ball was the cause of the link with the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease.

“But to mitigate against any potential risks, the updated heading guidance has been produced in parallel with UEFA’s medical committee, which is seeking to publish Europe-wide guidelines later this year.

In a statement, FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said, “This will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.”

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