Children banned from heading footballs in new FA trial that could be permanent

The FA is aiming to ban heading in matches that include players aged under 12 in England and trials are set to be announced this season.

Heading in training has already been banned for primary school children and now the nationwide body wants to see the ban extend into junior matches. Fresh research shows that former professional footballers in Scotland were 3.5 times more likely to die from brain disease in comparison to men of a similar age and background, promoting the move to run out the trial.

Meanwhile, some findings found that defenders who had a longer career were more likely to die from brain diseases such as dementia, when compared to players in other positions, such as the midfield or a striker, who had a shorter career.

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And now the FA has been given approval by the International Football Association Board – who is football’s law-making body – to introduce a new trial that stamps out what is called ‘deliberate heading’ in matches that include children in age groups from the under-12 level. It will begin from the start of the 2022-23 season and leagues and competitions from across the country have been invited to take part in the trial.

The FA said in a statement: “Should the trial be a success, the aim is to then remove deliberate heading from all football matches at under-12 level and below from the 2023-24 season.

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“This step will bring matches across these age groups in line with the FA’s current heading guidance for training, which already recommends that heading is eliminated or restricted at this level.”

The FA has set out aims to reduce “any potential risks that may be linked to heading the ball, including injuries from head to head, elbow to head, or head to ground contact, and it represents a cautious approach to playing and enjoying football whilst ongoing research continues in this area”.

Training under FA guidelines, footballers in England will be limited to ten ‘high-impact’ headers a week.

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