FA bans children under 12 from heading the football in training

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Children in primary school have been banned from heading the ball in training.

As part of new measures designed to stop the potential risks of neurodegenerative disease, the Football Association has decided to remove heading from training sessions for children under the age of 12.

In a statement, the FA Chief executive 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."

The decision has been made after a study found that ex-footballers were three times more likely to die from neurodegenerative disease than regular members of the public.

Primary school children will still be able to head the ball in matches because heading happens less often in games as it does in training.

Those aged between six and 11 are banned from heading and for 12-15 year olds, it is now considered a “low coaching priority”.

At under 18 level, heading in training sessions should be reduced as much as possible.

“We believe this is a natural evolution of our game,” said Les Howie, the FA’s Head of Grassroots Coaching, per the FA's website.

“Of course, there'll be some people who will accuse us of being over cautious.

“We hope that over time and when new research is undertaken and further evidence emerges that this will be the case.

“However, in the interim, we believe that these are common sense, practical and graduated guidance.”

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