FAI To Monitor Heading Initiatives

The Football Association of Ireland is in discussions with UEFA and with the Associations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England regarding the effects on children from heading footballs and will monitor the effect of the new ruling in the UK.

Primary school children have been banned from heading a football in training in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The three football associations have changed their guidance.

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A study showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.

“We are in communication with the football authorities in the UK and with UEFA on this issue” explained FAI Interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn.

“The health and safety of our schoolboys and schoolgirls is paramount and we note the decision taken in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England to ban heading in training for all players up to 12-years of age.”

“Our underage players already play with a lighter ball depending on their age and we will continue to assess developments across Europe on an ongoing basis in relation to this issue.”

As part of the Player Development Plan launched in 2015, children in Ireland play with footballs which are weighted dependent on their age. Up to under-8s, players play with a size-5 ball weighing 290-grams.

A size-5 ball weighing 320-grams is used from under-9s to under-11s, a size-5 ball weighing 370-grams is in use up to under-14s, with players from under-15s up using a size-5 ball weighing 450-grams.