The English Football Association has been granted approval to run a trial next season to remove deliberate heading in matches at Under-12s level as it looks to mitigate against potential health risks and dementia.
The trial will run for the duration of the 2022-23 season with a view to completely eliminating deliberate heading from the 2023-24 campaign if it is successful.
The English FA had already issued guidance to either restrict or eliminate heading in training.
The trial was approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), football’s law-making body.
the FA said in a statement:
The aim was to help mitigate against any potential risks that may be linked to heading the ball, including injuries from head-to-head, elbow-to-head, or head-to-ground contact.
It represents a cautious approach to playing and enjoying football while ongoing research continues in this area.
Studies have linked heading to lasting brain injuries, with the issue coming to the forefront when it emerged that five members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team all suffered from dementia.
A software company that has been working with English Premier League clubs even developed a virtual reality training program in a bid to overcome the damaging impact of heading.