Giffnock Soccer Centre, one of Scotland’s largest youth football clubs, with a membership of 1200 players and 200 coaches, today announced a policy to remove the heading of footballs across its smaller -sided squads up to and including the 7-a-side teams.
The move follows advisory guidance issued by The Scottish Youth Football Association recommending that heading of the football is removed from training and games for younger players.
Craig Inglis, chair of Giffnock Soccer Centre, commented: “As a community club we’re parents first and coaches second. In light of the available medical evidence we feel a responsibility to safeguard the future health of our youngest players. Although some of the on-going scientific studies are yet to report, there is a growing consensus among the medical community that heading the football contributes towards players developing dementia and other brain conditions later in life. We have a responsibility to our players and would rather give families clear direction on this issue. We will be following the issues very closely and the policy with regards to the older age groups remains under close consideration. Our football development work focuses on building skills with the feet ‘on the deck’ and this is what we will be focusing on.”
Henry McLeish, former First Minister of Scotland and ex-professional footballer threw his weight behind Giffnock’s move. McLeish’s father battled dementia before dying in 2009. McLeish commented: “I would like to congratulate Giffnock Soccer Centre for taking such a positive and inspiring step to safeguard the health and well-being of children and young people. Although there is a great need for more intense research, the step they are taking is clearly based on the precautionary principle and is very sensible.”
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