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Should children in Suffolk be allowed to head footballs?

PUBLISHED: 19:00 18 January 2020

Scotland is expected to ban children from practicing headers - but should Suffolk learn lessons from the FIELD report?  Picture: HIGHWAYSTARZ-PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY/iSTOCKPHOTO

Scotland is expected to ban children from practicing headers - but should Suffolk learn lessons from the FIELD report? Picture: HIGHWAYSTARZ-PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY/iSTOCKPHOTO

Highwaystarz-Photography

Earlier this week it was revealed the Scottish FA are expected to ban children from heading footballs – but should Suffolk follow suit?

The news came following the publishing of the FIELD report, which included research taken by Dr William Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and the Hampden Sports Clinic.

The report found former professional players were three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative diseases than their counterparts, with an increased risk of dementia.

Richard Neal, CEO and safeguarding lead at Suffolk FA, did not endorse the ban - but said coaches in Suffolk should re-familiarize themselves with concussion guidelines.

Mr Neal added: "The current and future safety and well-being of players is of paramount concern.

Suffolk FA CEO Richard Neal said the safety and wellbeing of players is paramount  Picture: NICK GARNHAMSuffolk FA CEO Richard Neal said the safety and wellbeing of players is paramount Picture: NICK GARNHAM

"The Medical & Football Advisory Group also concluded that more research is needed into why players had been affected, but that there is not enough evidence at this stage to make other changes to the way the modern-day game is played."

Speaking previously, Ipswich Town legend Ray Crawford labelled such a move for adults as "ridiculous", arguing it is an integral part of the game.

A similar ban has also been in place in the USA since 2015, although Scotland would be the first place in Europe to implement such a policy.

Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, said there "seems to be" merits to such a move.

Mr McCabe added: "It is understandable that coaches and parents are looking for clarification on this issue. It is therefore vital that more research is conducted to fully understand what risks, if any, are linked to heading lightweight modern footballs.

"There are questions about the age limit and speculation suggests this will be 12 years. This infers that a child of 13 years is safe to head the ball. How do we know this to be the case?

"The difficulty we face, in the absence of meaningful research relating to the modern game, is where we draw the line in terms of acceptable risk versus the rewards we know healthy exercise can bring."

What are your thoughts on the proposed ban? Should Suffolk follow suit? Answer in our poll above or email your thoughts to us.


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