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Region reacts to youth football heading ban

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale

YOUNG footballers across Dumfries and Galloway will have to change their game style after heading was banned for safety measures.

The Scottish Football Association announced the new rule on Monday, following reports from the University of Glasgow last year linking dementia and football, due to players heading the ball on a regular basis.

A Dumfries and Galloway spokesman confirmed the guidance is applicable with immediate effect and will affect youngsters between the ages of six to 17.

Recommendations will incorporate all children’s and youth football in Scotland and include the following:

Heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11. Heading should be considered a low coaching priority between the ages of 12 to 15 years, however training sessions can be introduced.

Heading burden will remain restricted to one training session per week for 16 and 17 year olds and coaches should be mindful of limiting repetitions during that session.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “While it is important to re-emphasise 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.”

Reacting to the move, Bryan Gilfillan, the owner and coach at Annandale’s Little Tekkers Football Academy, said: “This rule being introduced, it can only be a good thing because kids safety is paramount and also it will provide coaches a massive incentive to become better coaches and hopefully lead to more funding being provided from the SFA.

“From my academy’s point of view, there is no change, because we always encourage youngsters to play from the back and for kids to open their body up when receiving the ball.”

He added: “This rule has been in place over in America for the last four years, so it was about time for England, Scotland and the other home nations to bring this rule into football.

“There is more to life than just football and banning headers will go towards preserving young people’s lives.”


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