IN OCTOBER, a University of Glasgow study revealed that former footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die from dementia caused by heading the ball.
Since then, the Scottish Football Association has moved to ban children under 12 from heading in training, with the English FA following suit in February.
The FA says heading in youth matches is rare, and is therefore still permitted. Match analysis estimates that there are only around 1.5 headers per game in youth football.
Former England international Ryan Mason played his last game in 2017, fracturing his skull in an aerial challenge with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill while at Hull City. He officially retired in February 2018 amid concern over the risk surrounding him heading a football again.
Mason now coaches at former club Tottenham Hotspur, and has suggested that young players train with sponge balls to develop the correct technique and reduce the risk of injury.
The FA’s new guidelines stipulate that heading will be bled into training sessions gradually as players grow and physically develop. Under-12s will take one session a month, heading the ball a maximum of five times, with under-13s having one session a week.
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