A US football chief believes that the rest of the world will eventually catch up with the United States’ pioneering ban on heading in youth football.
Kevin Payne, the chief executive of US Club Soccer and principally involved in youth football, was involved in the discussions which led to the restrictions back in 2015.
“While there is not a lot of direct evidence or research which draws a straight-line correlation between heading a ball at young ages and potential issues later in life we think it is a logical assumption as younger children’s technique will not be as good and their brains are not as fully developed,” Payne said.
“Until such time as that research has been completed and there are conclusions to be drawn we thought it was much safer to err on the side of caution.”
Part of the issue is that no one really knows what are the consequences of heading a ball at this young age,” he added. “Until we do know the answer the only responsible course of action is to do everything possible to minimise the chance of it creating problems.There were some individuals who were not happy about it and I am sure there are still, the old guard who think it is silly not to allow heading.”
In the meantime, a major study into the long-term effects of heading and potential links to dementia and brain damage commissioned by the Football Association and PFA began two months ago, although initial findings are not expected for at least three years.