Posted: Mon 24th Feb 2020

Three UK Football Associations are stopping under 12’s from heading footballs but no ban in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Feb 24th, 2020

The football associations of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have issued updated heading guidance for all age groups between under-six and under-18.

The move means schoolchildren playing under-12s football will be be banned from heading the ball in training sessions.

The Welsh FA (FAW) has said it has no plans in place to ban heading at under-12s level.

The introdction of the new rules in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland follow the publication of the FIELD study, carried out by the University of Glasgow and published in October 2019.

The study found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population.

It did not identify the cause of the increased risk, but repeated heading of the ball was found to be a likely factor.

The new guidance is being introduced immediately and will provide grassroots clubs, coaches and players with the recommended heading for training sessions only, no changes are being made to the way matches are played.

FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said: “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.

“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.”

Guidance includes:

• Heading guidance in training for all age groups between under-six and under-18
• No heading in training in the foundation phase (primary school children)
• Graduated approach to heading training for children in the development phase between under-12 to under-16
• Required ball sizes for training and matches for each age group
• No changes to heading in matches, taking into consideration the limited number of headers in youth games

FAW is undertaking a review of U11’s football and any new guidance will follow later this year.

“Mini football is currently the only recognised form of football for children under 11 years old in Wales.

While the game has all the features of real football, the smaller scale of the game means that the focus is on the ball to feet practices and technique.

There is currently a review of mini football underway with the findings due to be made available later this year.

Any guidance on heading will form part of the recommendations from this review.”


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