ADULT FOOTBALL’S first match with heading restrictions is set to take place this month.
Researchers are still trying to discover whether the beautiful game can still function with heading banned in order to try and help reduce the risk of dementia for players.
The pilot will involve a number of former pros and will take place at non-league Spennymoor Town’s Brewery Field on September 26.
Heading will only be allowed inside the box during the first half while none will be allowed at all during the second period.
Stars such as Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan have got behind brain charity Head for Change – the organisers of the game along with the Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust.
The fixture is the very first of its kind and comes after extensive research by Dr Willie Stewart and his University of Glasgow team.
They claim to have found the ‘missing link’ between repetitive heading and neurodegenerative disease.
Defenders head the ball the most and they state they therefore have a five-fold risk of developing dementia compared to the general public.
However, due to goalkeepers hardly ever heading the ball, they have no increased risk.
And those players that continued their careers the longest also have a greater risk of neurodegenerative disease.
Dr Stewart has therefore asked football’s authorities to consider whether heading was necessary after his findings.
But the chair and co-founder of Head for Change, Dr Judith Gates, insists her charity do not want an outright ban on heading.
She says that is a decision Fifa must make after conducting their own trials.
Dr Gates told the Daily Mail: “Much conversation in footballing circles has centred on making the game safer.
“The Premier League and other governing bodies have introduced guidance which limits high-force headers in training. Players, coaches, clubs and fans are asking, ‘What does this mean for the beautiful game?’
“At all levels of the game, players and coaches have asked to experiment. In response to these queries, Head for Change agreed that the charity game at Spennymoor Town would illustrate some of these issues.
“What happens to the game when heading is only allowed in the box? What happens when the ball cannot be headed? We hope that this experiment will further the discussion and that both players and supporters will have many ideas to share as a result of being involved.”
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