Heading is one of football’s most famous techniques that if executed properly could lead a team to victory. However, for former Tottenham, Hull and England midfielder Ryan Manson, heading eventually cost him his career.
Although he should have at the peak of his career, Manson was forced to retire in February 2018 after suffering a fractured skull during an aerial challenge in a Premier League game against Chelsea, the 27-year-old is calling for a ban on children heading footballs to be introduced.
Manson told BBC London, “If you have got a 7- or 8-year-old heading a solid ball, and his brain and his bone in his skull isn’t fully developed, then that could potentially be doing damage.” He continued, “I look at some kids and they head the ball with the top of the head and their technique is all wrong, therefore the pressure that it’s putting on the brain is a lot more.”
The ban would be liken to the rules in the United States, imposed by the US Soccer Federation, where kids under 11 are banned from heading while those between 11 and 13 have restrictions on heading.
“I don’t think repetitive heading at a young age is doing the kids any good,” Manson said. “The older you get, you get more experience and your heading technique gets better,” said the youth coach at Spurs. He suggested to “bring in sponge balls to learn the technique and gain that experience of actually challenging for a header.”
Medical professionals and brain specialists have advised against adolescents under 18 executing headers as their bodies have not developed yet. Some experts even call for restriction of the technique in professional football.
What do you think of banning heading from children’s football and restricting it in the professional game? Let us know in the comments.