A leading youth coach has backed a ban on children heading the ball in Scotland after fears over the links between football and dementia.
It is understood the Scottish FA could introduce the new ruling, in a bid to lead the way on the issue following a report which found former players are more at risk of dying from the debilitating disease.
The ruling could come as early as next months, as the SFA looks to bring in a ban similar to that introduced in the USA in 2015.
Scotland could become the first European country to impose a restriction on head contact if the ruling is passed and John Beatt, 47, chairman of Dryburgh Athletic, reckons the change will be a double boost to the game and players.
He said: “It’s interesting to see this coming out now because I was aware of the consultation and it can only be good.
“And it will also encourage kids to get the ball down and play on the ground.
“So there is the safety aspect and there is also the developing a better style of football.
“We encourage that at our club, to keep the ball on the ground, and play it out from the back.”
“We have had a few parents ask about this in recent months, but we did know of the consultation and I heard on the news that it is about to be introduced in the next few months.
“We don’t have heading practice, it is all about keeping the ball on the ground and developing better football.
“To be honest, you don’t see a lot of heading the ball in youth football now.
“And another coach I spoke with recently said that heading the ball is going out of the game.
“I was part of an SFA study group which went out to Valencia to see them training kids football and it was very much the focus on keeping the ball n the ground for the younger teams.”
The Tele is running an online poll about the move and readers have the chance to vote on whether it is a good, or bad decision.
One former Dundee defender, Bobby Glennie, agreed with the call but reckoned it should be a wider age group up to teenage years, or the governing body could also look to introduce a softer ball.
The 62-year-old ex-centre half said: “By all means introduce this if it means a reduction in dementia.
“But what about laddies when they turn 13, do they start to head the ball then?
“I still think kids will want to use the real ball in training and go for headers. My thoughts are that it should be banned all the way to maybe 15 or 16.
“I think using a softer ball rather than the ones we used to use back in the day would help. I remember at the school football training there was an orange, dimpled Mitre that if it caught you a stinger then the imprint would be on your leg for days.
“Funnily enough, there wasn’t a lot of heading practice in my younger days at youth football, but when I turned senior then you headed the ball every day.
“And at Dundee our manager Tam Gemmell would line up lots of balls 40 yards out and ping them towards us and we had to run out and meet them as if it was a cross into the box.
“I know there has been no official link directly between heading and dementia yet, but it is better to introduce this now than find out later that there is a direct link.”
Discussions have been ongoing since the release of a study in October which found the first links between former players and degenerative brain disease.
John MacLean, doctor for the SFA, played a key role in the study which showed former players are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia.
He said: “We can’t wait on the evidence one way or the other on heading.
“We need to take some sensible, pragmatic steps at the moment.”
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