The Big Debate: To Head or Not to Head!

10 March 2020

On February 24 2020, the government made the decision to ban headers in football for children under the age of 12 throughout the whole of the UK except Wales. The Government performed this action due to the risk of developing major head injuries and associated side effects such as dementia, brain damage and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The new football association guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do. The guidance, which will not yet apply in Wales, will affect training only.

Rules: (from the FA guidelines)

  • The heading guidance covers training for all age groups between under-six and under-18
  • No heading in training in the foundation phase (primary school children)
  • Headers will gradually get more frequent in training, for example under-12 teams will be limited to one session a month with a maximum of five headers, while under-13 age groups will have one session a week
  • The rules also advise not to over-inflate the football when introducing heading in training, instead using the lowest pressure allowed
  • The guidance also sets out required ball sizes for training and matches for each age group

We interviewed Mr Williams, from The Beacon and his opinion of this change is that it is a great idea, as it would diminish the amount of severe brain injuries. He also thought that the U12 and below should be banned from heading the ball in training, however, for the U13s he thought that they could practise to header the ball for 5 minutes in training sessions.

We also spoke to Mr Langley another teacher who thought this idea was good and bad. He thought it was bad as he was brought up to head the ball and he said it was part of the game for both attacking and defending. He also said that if you don’t practise to head a ball in training you won’t know how to head in the match as you haven’t practised. However, he said it was also a good move and said he had seen it coming. If it’s bad for you, you should stop just like smoking 100 years ago, no one knew it was bad for you but now that we know it’s bad a lot less people smoke.

To conclude, we interviewed 3 teachers, 2 of whom agreed with the idea of banning headers in football. As we are keen footballers we think that this is a bad move as heading the ball is an integral part of the game.

Ayaan R and Aaron G