Early Doors

Why children ‘should be banned from heading footballs’

Early Doors

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It has long been said that English footballers are over-coached and over-protected, causing a lack of instinctive play on the field.

Well, that could be a problem which is exacerbated if advice from a top motor neuro-science expert is taken on board, coupled with new guidelines from the FA.

Dr Michael Grey, who is a specialist in brain damage studies at the University of Birmingham, believes that young children should be banned from heading the ball.

Why? Quite simply, he argues, because it is too dangerous.

Grey says that the impact of a football against the skull causes brain damage, and young children are particularly at risk.

Dr Grey told Sky News: "I do not think that children should stop sport, the obesity epidemic means we need to encourage them.

"But we do need to look at rule changes and the way we train children.

"Children should not be heading the ball. We don’t know at what age children’s necks become strong enough to withstand the movement of the head when the head is struck by the ball.

"Some of my colleagues have suggested 14 but I really think it is individual. In addition the brain starts to shake and rotates when the head is struck by the ball.

"The brain bounces back and forth and it is the impact of the brain against the inside of the skull causes additional damage."


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Grey believes that children's neck muscles are simply not developed sufficiently to be able to cope with the shock of impact of heading footballs.

Scans have reportedly revealed damage to the brains of professional players over the years, and Grey's views come as the FA issues new guidelines on concussion and head injuries.

As it will now apply, if a player loses consciousness they must be immediately taken off the pitch and not allowed to return to the field.

The World Cup in Brazil saw two very memorable incidents of dangerous concussion with both Javier Mascherano - in the semi-final, no less - and Uruguay's Alvaro Pereira against England continuing to play on despite looking dangerously bewildered.

What do you think of Dr Grey's argument that children should be banned from heading footballs? Post your views below...

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