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Earlier this month the United States Soccer Federation outlined plans to stop children aged ten and under from heading footballs. The plans also intended to restrict heading for children between the ages of 11 and 13 to matches only.
 
The introduction of the ban was brought about by a lawsuit in America with a group of young footballers, and their parents, suing FIFA over the risks from concussion. The lawsuit did not seek monetary damages but called for a medical monitoring programme instead.
 
Football has long been criticized for its attitude towards concussion. The case of Hugo Lloris being allowed to continue playing for Tottenham, after he was knocked unconscious in a game against Everton in 2013, highlighted a degree of negligence and new concussion protocols were introduced the following season.
 
But are we doing enough on this side of the pond? Should a ban along similar lines as those implemented by US Soccer be introduced here? Or is it an overreaction?
 
Dr Michael Grey, a leading expert in Motor Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been one of the leading advocates over a ban on heading a football for children.
 
“Children should not be heading the ball. We don't know at what age children's necks become strong enough to withstand the movement of the head when the head is struck by the ball,” told the Daily Telegraph in 2014.
 
“Some of my colleagues have suggested [a ban until the age of] 14, but I really think it is individual.
 
“In addition, the brain starts to shake and rotates when the head is struck by the ball.
 
“The brain bounces back and forth and it is the impact of the brain against the inside of the skull that causes additional damage.”
 
However, not everyone agrees with an outright ban. Following the news out of America, I contacted Headway, the brain injury association, which has a proactive concussion in sport campaign ongoing. Luke Griggs, Director of Communications, issued the following statement on behalf of the organisation:
 
“Headway,the brain injury association, believes there is currently insufficient evidence on the risk of brain injury from heading modern, lightweight footballs to justify a similar ban in the UK at this stage.
 
“There is no doubt that we know a great deal more about concussion today than we did five or ten years ago, and we're slowly beginning to see a cultural change in the way that head injuries are dealt with in sport.
 
“A great deal more work is needed, however, to ensure that all sports, at all levels, take concussion seriously and adopt an 'if in doubt, sit it out' approach.
 
“A number of small-scale studies have been published or are ongoing at present addressing the issue of sub-concussive blows, but we are yet to see scientific consensus on whether there is a link between heading a football and neurological damage.
 
“While neurological experts are getting better at identifying smaller changes in the brain following impact, the question remains do these minor changes have a long-term impact?
 
“It is vital that this research continues and more studies are conducted in order to answer that question.
 
“Until robust evidence is presented to categorically show that heading a football can damage one's brain, it is important that the focus remains on ensuring all those involved in sport are aware of and strictly follow concussion protocols.”
 
Rather than an outright ban, it would seem that an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ plan of action would be more practical, something that is already on display at various clubs around the country.
 
Graham Mearns, Chairperson of Monifieth Ladies FC, outlines the approach at his club.
 
“The club policy is now agreed that the player will be removed for at least 10 minutes after any injury which requires the game to be stopped (particularly head injuries),” he remarked.
 
“As to the banning of headers all together, I’m still undecided. In reality most players under ten will not head the ball and at Monifieth we try to play the ball on the ground as much as possible and so it only comes to goal line clearances when the ball may be headed.”
 
Of course you can always further limit concussion risk with regards to the equipment used in practice, something highlighted by Ferry Athletic coach, Charlie Stott.
 
“The balls being used are very important. There is no need for the use of heavier leather match balls for a continuous repetitive drill.
 
“Sponge balls or lighter indoor footballs would suffice as long as the basics being coached are still being learnt. Then in a match situation the kids can head the ball properly on much fewer occasions than is required.”
 
Youth Football Scotland decided to run a Twitter poll on the matter, posing the question: ‘Do you agree or disagree with the US Soccer plans to stop children aged ten and under heading footballs?’ 335 votes were cast. To say the result was conclusive would be something of an understatement, with 14% agreeing and an overwhelming 86% disagreeing.
 
 
So do we need a ban? You would have to say no. Concussion in football has been somewhat ostracized in the past, but we have reached a point where it has become one of the key medical issues being discussed and researched, exactly as it should be.
 
Evidence at present is insufficient to bring about a ban but implementing common sense is the most vital and practical solution to minimize the risk of a child suffering a concussion. If there is any doubt, sit out the game, or training, and use foam, or lighter balls where you can. With the implementation of common sense everybody wins.    
 
If you have any queries about concussion, or other brain injuries, click here for the Headway website: https://www.headway.org.uk
Thursday, 12 November 2015 18:58

50% off SWF Scottish Cup souvenir bundle

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The early bird period for discounted souvenir bundles has passed. You can purchase match DVDs and photos from the SWF Youth Cup finals using the button and links below:
 
Match DVDs
 
Get your full match DVDs below. Featuring the game from start to finish, interactive lineups and post match interviews.
 
Select quantity:
Select match
 
Photos
 
Saturday, 03 October 2015 13:40

UK's most comprehensive Deals website launches

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Youth Football Scotland is delighted to be launching the UK's most comprehensive sports deals website, Grassroots Deals. 
 
For as little as £10 a week, your business can benefit from an 30,000 person strong sports audience actively seeking to purchase your goods and services.
 
Categories include coaching, equipment, health & fitness, kit, local services, nutrition, technology, travel & leisure and is supported by sports associations to ensure the widest audience of sports enthusiasts are viewing the website on a daily basis from across the UK.
 
To be the one of the first to benefit from the new sports platform, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0131 629 7903.
 
 
YFS are looking for teams to represent Scotland at the World's biggest youth football tournament this summer.
Fill out the form below to register your team's interest. 
 
{rsform 34}
 
Teams who represent Scotland at this global spectacle will receive the following:
 
-Free YFS representative strips
-Full YFS media team follow your team's 
-Live coverage of your matches on Norwegian TV
-All inclusive accommodation and food
-Comprehensive fundraising kit with full social media support to help promote your cause.
-UK and National press recognition
 
Check out the highs of previous tournaments in the video below:
 
 
Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:30

East Fife Youth Academy one step closer to dream

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The East Fife Youth Academy has been up and running for two years now after having previously been known as the East Fife Junior Supporters Club, the Academy aims to produce and widen children’s participation in sport and at the same time develop life and social skills, healthy living and wellbeing, through their community football programmes. The football club has the dream of being one of Scotland’s best community club’s by 2020, and have taken another step closer towards that goal with the introduction of their new ‘Wee Fifer’s’ community programme.
 
The programme aims to give an early introduction for nursery and primary one kids into a healthy lifestyle as they participate in sport, and also compliments Education Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, the club have been able to fund this project thanks partly to a community initiative award from the Scottish Football Partnership. Youth Football Scotland spoke to Lorna McAuley, Head of the Academy and Community Development worker about the youth academy and the recent developments at the club.
 
Lorna said of the academy: “The academy’s aim is to provide quality training in a fun, friendly safe environment allowing participants from all over the community to take part.” And of her own participation she went on “I got involved with the academy as a parent of two boys who were playing with the club. “Over my time there the role developed until I was asked to become the head of the academy.”
 
On the success and popularity of the Youth Academy in the Methil area “We are a popular choice by the local community, with over 300 members in our small area. “Parents are keen to volunteer and take up opportunities within the club to coach and offer admin support. “The academy is going from strength to strength all the time, in the past 18 months we have developed a full community programme and doubled the amount of children we work with a regular basis.”
 
The community Initiative award allows the academy to provide cost free sessions and introduce local families to the environment of the football club, Lorna went on “The SFP grant allows us to start the Wee Fifers programme and engage with approximately 1000 children aged between 3-6 in partnership with active schools nurseries and P1, children will be given free training as costs are covered from the funding. “It also allows us to introduce East Fife to the children and their families as the funding covers mini tournaments at the stadium.”
 
“The Wee fifers programme has been designed to try and capture children’s interest in physical activity from a very early age. “We will be engaging with children aged between 3-6 for blocks of five weeks, then they will be encouraged to take up a free opportunity to take part in regular classes for another four weeks. “We hope that by gaining their interest early we will keep them interested in sport throughout their lives.”
 
On the future of the academy, Lorna has some interesting ideas on the direction she would like to see the youth academy take “I would like to see the academy expand even further with more community activity than we have managed so far. “There are many avenues we still have to explore. “Football is a very powerful tool to capture people’s attention and can be used in many great ways. “We have plans to run a High School programme engaging with children aged 14-16 with attendance issues.”
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 12:42

Jak Trueman Save of the Season 2014/15 - Final

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After a nail-biting semi final, we have reached the final stage of the Jak Trueman Save of the Season. A vote for the top stop from youth goalkeepers across Scotland in 2014/15. The candidates are as follows:
 
Save A - Aaron McKissock, Renfrew Victoria U15s
Save D - Calum Boyle, Broxburn Athletic Colts U14s
Save G - Dylan Orr, Blantyre SA U13s
Save L - Josh Dunn, Heart of Midlothian U15s
 
Cast your vote through our website using the form below. One vote is allowed per valid email address. You can also vote through Facebook (click here) and Twitter by tweeting us @yfst stating the save you wish to vote for e.g. Save Z using the hashtag ‪#‎JakTruemanSOTS‬. Voting will be open until 7:15pm Wednesday 26th August.
 
Update: Website and Twitter voting has now closed. Facebook remains open until 7:15pm.

Click here to book ticket for Nathan Caton's Straight Outta Middlesex show

There can't be many Brentford fans performing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, but the Fringe is nothing but eclectic. Massive Bees fan Nathan Caton is in the capital cementing his burgeoning reputation as a rising star of British comedy.

The Londoner’s show Straight Outta Middlesex is, he says, about the trials and tribulations of "still living at home with my Mum, being immature when my mates are growing up doing adults thing like getting married and all that kind of stuff. It’s quite open."

Nathan’s style of comedy has been influenced by a long list of American greats, especially “the old school, original Eddie Murphy. But if there hadn’t been Richard Prior, there wouldn’t have been Eddie Murphy, so he’s another influence. As is Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Robin Williams, Louis CK..."

Despite being only 30, Nathan is something of a veteran of the stand-up circuit, having done his first performance aged just 14 at a church talent show. "Obviously it was clean," he laughs. "I really enjoyed the buzz." From there, he was hooked. But, of course, football was another first love.

"I wasn’t a great footballer, that’s why I’m a comedian now. In primary school I was awful, but in high school I kind of realised, I’m big and fast so I should just stay at the back."

These days he is too busy to play football – "comedy kills your social life", he says – but he is still a proud season ticket holder "so I’m there as often as I can."

Back in Edinburgh, he’s enjoying the famous festival atmosphere. "The crowds have been good so far. Audiences have been turning up, laughing, that’s all I can ask for. If I leave the stage and I’ve not been booed off, I’ve won!"

Tickets for Nathan’s show, at Pleasance Tent Dome at 8pm every night during the fringe, are available at pleasance.co.uk.

Nathan can also be found on Twitter @nathancaton and at nathancaton.com.

Music - Bossy Love: Tell you what
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Click here to book tickets to Iain Stirling's show 'Touchy Feely'

Iain Stirling, the stand-up comedian and former CBBC presenter is back in his hometown of Edinburgh performing at the Edinburgh Fringe. He spoke to us about his Fringe show that is being performed at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August.

The Liverpool fan, who was "never that good" at football, played for his school when he was younger, and spent time at Blue Brazil too.

"So I played for my school, I went to Liberton High School, so I played for  my school," Iain said. "They were actually fairly decent you know, and then I played for a team, I think it might have been Caley Thistle, I can't remember, we were called the Blue Brazil, I remember that."

Iain, who does the voiceover for ITV's Love Island, told us about his show and what to expect when you come and see it, “So it’s just 50 minutes of me telling jokes, there is no theme, nothing sad happens, I just tell funny stories for 50 minutes to an hour chatting to people and then go home”, he said.

"You've got to come up with a title in March but I didn't know what the show was about and then the day the title was due in my management phoned me up and said, 'You need to come up with a title', so I just said that title and I've regretted it every day since," Stirling said. "I think I've got the worst title in the Fringe."

Some of Iain’s biggest inspirations when he was growing up were people like Billy Connelly, Derek Tiernan and Andrew Maxwell. Iain also went on to explain that he remembers seeing acts like the Mighty Boosh performing in the streets of Edinburgh. All of these acts played a big part in inspiring Iain as a comedian.

While here in Edinburgh performing, Iain has become so popular that he has been given extra dates at the Fringe.

"It’s mad, my room is quite big for me this year you know," Iain said. "Normally you're in like toilets and office spaces and bunkers and portacabin and I'm in an actual room that is designed for people to be watching someone talking.

"It’s actually really flattering when people come. I do appreciate it."

It was Iain's love of Monty Python that inspired him to become a comedian. He said: "When I was 16 me and my mate just knew someone that ran a venue and then we asked them if we could have the venue for four days. We wrote a sketch because we were obsessed with Monty Python back then, so we wrote like this rip-off of Monty Python essentially and then done that for like 5 days or something, this little venue on the Royal Mile."

"If you just want an evening of laughs and jokes, I'm your man."

You can find Iain on twitter @Iaindoesjokes, or on his website, www.iaindoesjokes.com.  

Music - Foreignfox: Quiet at home
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Thursday, 30 July 2015 13:12

Neil Lennon stumped by 11-year-old manager?

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With pre-season almost over for the majority of clubs in the United Kingdom, ex-Celtic and current Bolton Wanderers team manager Neil Lennon has come up against his toughest opponent of the season so far.

In a pre-season game against the National League North (the sixth tier of English football) club AFC Fylde, Bolton were held 1-1 by the team managed by an 11 year old. Daniel Fryer got the opportunity when a fellow Fylde supporter won the the chance to lead the club but could not attend, handing the role to Fryer.

With Fryer responsible for team-talks, press conferences and substitutions, the young man’s natural skill-set clearly unsettled the Lancashire club. His presence was so unsettling that Lennon, one of the most coveted managers in British football after his stint at Celtic Park, did not even attend the friendly, clearly worried about the possible mental impact that a defeat to such a talented young manager would have on his squad and his reputation.

Dave Challinor, AFC Fylde’s returning manager, must now be under increased pressure going into the forthcoming season. With such a talented youngster hot on his heels and in and around the ground as a ball boy, the pressure will be ramping up for continued success for the team. 

Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015 12:35

Jak Trueman Save of the Season 2014/15

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Youth Football Scotland is delighted to announce that this week we will be holding the Jak Trueman Save of the Season Award. 
 
At this stage we invite any young goalkeepers who had a superb save caught on camera in season 2014/15 to send it in via social media private message or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you are unsure of how to send the video file, please contact us for assistance.
 
 
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