FA 'to LIMIT amount of heading in professional training' in England

FA 'to LIMIT amount of heading in professional training' in England


England ‘to become the first nation to LIMIT the amount of heading in professional training’ in an ongoing effort to combat dementia risks for players

  • The FA’s head of medicine says heading is a big risk factor in regard to dementia
  • Charlotte Cowie says restrictions are aimed at curbing extensive heading drills
  • A committee has been formed to draw up the new heading protocols

England is set to become the first country to curb the amount of heading involved in professional training in a bid to tackle football’s dementia crisis.

Charlotte Cowie, the Football Association’s head of medicine, told The Telegraph that the incoming restrictions will be primarily aimed at coaches who run extensive heading drills.

Cowie said that heading is ‘among ‘the most likely risk factors’ for the risk of dementia among former professionals. 

Measures to limit the amount of heading in training could be soon introduced in England

The new measures are mainly there to curb extensive heading drills carried out in training

Sportsmail has been calling for heading to be restricted in training sessions – one of seven demands to help the game tackle the dementia crisis.

A joint committee, led by the Premier League, including the FA, the PFA, the Women’s Super League and the English Football League is now working to draw up the new protocols.

‘We’ve got a fairly quick timescale but we do want to gather evidence first before we put some heading guidelines in place,’ Cowie added. ‘What it will make sure is where there are coaches that are complete outliers, and we know that they exist, which just make players head again and again and again for 45 minutes or longer, that those actions are brought in and called out. Because that is where clearly those training practices are inappropriate.

‘I haven’t spoken to a single football doctor and had anyone say this is wrong.’ 

On Monday, Sportsmail reported that there are several players who played as recently as the 1990s who have since been diagnosed with dementia.

Charlotte Cowie, the FA’s head of medicine, says heading is a risk factor with dementia

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has been contacted by relatives of ex-players born in the late 1950s who have been told they have the condition, providing further evidence debunking the argument that the old leather ball is behind the link between the sport and an increased risk of neuro-degenerative diseases.

Sportsmail’s seven-point campaign, which was launched in November and has been backed by former footballers and MPs, has also called for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes. 

The Premier League, acting on guidance from lawmakers the International Football Association Board, are to trial permanent concussion substitutions from this weekend. 

Dawn Astle, the daughter of former West Brom and England forward Jeff who died at the age of 59 in 2002, has been campaigning to raise awareness of the risks involving football with dementia.

Dawn Astle is currently working with the PFA to provide help for families of sufferers 

 Sportsmail’s dementia campaign was launched last November and has received backing from former footballers, as well as MPs

Astle is currently working with the PFA to provide help for families of sufferers. She is also looking into the union setting up a dementia arm after it responded to Sportsmail’s campaign calling on football to finally tackle its dementia scandal.

‘The first priority for us is to secure help for the families who need it,’ she said. ‘The difficulty is that each situation is very difficult. The needs of people whose relatives are well down the road are different to those who have just been diagnosed.

‘We are hearing from more and more people who were born in the late 1950s, and who played in the late 80s and early 90s who have been diagnosed.’

This weekend, the Premier League will introduce concussion substitutes, with teams having two permanent concussion substitutes per game that can be used regardless of how many other subs that have been made. 

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