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Scottish Youth Football Association Vote to Restrict Heading of the Ball

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Head injuries have always been part and parcel of the professional game; however, mid-air collisions and the impact thereof have quite rightly become a major discussion point over the last decade. Plenty of research has been carried out, and the latest study by the Glasgow University has prompted the Scottish Youth Football Association to make a monumental ruling. In October 2019, it was announced that they will seek to ban the practice of heading the ball in training, whilst they've also advised youth coaches to make every effort to reduce head-to-ball contact during competitive fixtures. It's a landmark decision which will only be applicable to under-11s teams for the time being; however, it's a huge step forward for the game and it's good to see the SYFA acting as trailblazers in this sphere.

The SYFA became the first body in world football to issue such advice, although it's highly likely that many others will follow suit. They issued a statement reiterating that they are "committed to ensuring the safest environment possible for children and young people to play football" and confirmed that they will also continue to work closely with the Scottish FA over the coming months. It isn't the first time that this subject has been raised, with brain injury specialist Dr Bennett Omalu calling for a ban back in 2018. He told the BBC that "no player under the age of 18 should be heading the ball". He went on to suggest that it should be also be heavily restricted in the professional game as well. 


He went on to suggest that it should be also be heavily restricted in the professional game as well. Jeff Astle's family have tirelessly campaigned for a change in the law after the former West Brom and England striker passed away as a result of a specific type of dementia which has been strongly linked to repeated head trauma. Their hard work is starting to pay-off and the authorities are beginning to sit up and take notice.



There have been plenty of recent examples which highlight the need for change, including Gary Mackay-Steven's blow to the head in last year's League Cup final which left the Aberdeen winger unconscious. In September 2019, Rangers' Joe Aribo required stitches following a nasty-looking incident in the game against Livingston. Whilst the primary concern will always be the welfare of the player, supporters don't enjoy seeing their players on the sidelines as a result of an innocuous and avoidable collision. The Gers are 31/20 in the football betting at Space Casino to finish top of the Scottish Premiership, and they can't afford to lose any of their key men to head injuries as they bid to overthrow Celtic this season.

Player safety is absolutely paramount, and this is a significant step in the right direction. The increased awareness around head injuries is extremely positive and these latest guidelines are likely to lead to plenty more discussions around the subject. Although the landmark ruling will not be enforced on all clubs, the majority of youth sides are likely to adhere to this notable change and the SYFA have been widely praised for setting a precedent in the modern game. Scottish youth football is leading the way and the parents of those players involved have unanimously welcomed the move. It is likely to be a long time before we see any significant changes at the very highest level, but it's a major step in helping protect the welfare of younger players in Scotland.
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