New FA guidelines for young footballers 'not a surprise' says University of Kent lecturer

News that children will no longer be able to head footballs in training is 'not a surprise' says a doctor from the University of Kent.

The FA announced this week that children aged 11 and under will no longer be allowed to head the ball during practice following research from the University of Glasgow which showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from brain disease.

New rules ban children 11 and under heading the ball in training
New rules ban children 11 and under heading the ball in training

The new guidelines, off the back of the study which was funded by the Football Associaton and Professional Footballers' Association, also extend to limits for how much heading older children can also do.

Dr Geoff Kohe, a lecturer in Sport Management and Policy from the University of Kent, said there was no link in the report between headers and young children but that the new FA guidelines were purely a 'preventative, cautionary measure'.

He said: "It's been a long time coming. We were aware this report was coming out.

"It was a big piece of research.

"It's the first large scale study that has demonstrated there could potentially be a link."

The new rules apply only to training, which Dr Kohe praised as a 'graduated approach' and one not expected to have any impact on the game for young people where heading the ball is not an 'integral' part of football training.

Watch the full interview with Dr Kohe on KMTV here:

FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham explained: "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.

"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."

Read the guidance in full on the Kent FA website by clicking here.

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