FA bans primary school children from heading football in major grassroots change

The Football Association has recommended that grassroots footballers avoid heading the ball in training sessions.

The governing body has updated its heading guidance, for training sessions only, for children between the age of six and 18.

Primary school kids have been advised to avoid heading at all costs during training.

While between the age of 12 and 16, a graduated use of the head is now recommended by the FA.

Ball sizes for training and matches for each age group will also be altered.

McDonalds, who are the largest provider of free balls for children, confirm they've already taken steps to remove heading from their programmes.

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"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," FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham

"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."

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish FA, added: "Our football committee has reviewed and approved the new guidelines.

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"As an association we believe this is the right direction of travel and are confident it will be good for the game, and those who play it."

The Scottish FA's chief executive, Ian Maxwell, commented: "While it is important to reemphasise there is no research to suggest that heading in younger age groups was a contributory factor in the findings of the FIELD study into professional footballers, nevertheless Scottish football has a duty of care to young people, their parents and those responsible for their wellbeing throughout youth football.

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"The updated guidelines are designed to help coaches remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football in the earliest years, with a phased introduction at an age group considered most appropriate by our medical experts.

"It is important to reassure that heading is rare in youth football matches, but we are clear that the guidelines should mitigate any potential risks.

"I would like to thank our colleagues at the English FA for their collaboration in this process and UEFA’s medical committee for their guidance."

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