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DSDT’s Position on Heading the Ball in Football

The Dementia Services Development Trust has noted the debate about heading the ball in football training for people under the age of 18. In the light of this, the DSDT supports the move to look into these matters, and whether the mitigating factors such as new ball technology and changes in youth training have made the game very low risk for these injuries.

It is not a new idea that head trauma from sports has a direct correlation with dementia and mortality relating to dementia. With the rise in media coverage discussing dementia cases in the 1966 English world cup team, dementia is now being discussed in the context of football. There has already been research to indicate the link between football head injuries and dementia. Sir Bobby Charlton’s wife has recently released to the public that Sir Bobby has dementia. Many players from the 1966 England World Cup team  subsequently went on to develop dementia. There are significant people who are calling for a blanket ban for under 18s heading the ball and a reduction overall in ball heading. Recent news has indicated that the union for football players in Scotland – PFA Scotland – are discussing a reduction in the extent to which players will practice heading the ball during training sessions.  In addition, it has been mentioned that head injuries and related diseases (dementia and motor neuron disease) affect younger players too, and not only old former footballers. It has been reported that ex-football players are three times more likely to die of dementia than the general public.