Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has waded into the debate surrounding the expected SFA decision to ban heading for U12s in Scotland.
The Scottish governing body is reportedly set to take the decision after research suggested footballers were three times more likely to develop brain conditions such as dementia in later life.
Whilst the Ibrox boss is sympathetic with the position of the SFA and with the situation, he believes there are other solutions instead of an outright ban on heading the ball.
“It’s certainly something I back in terms of the seriousness of the dementia risk,” said Gerrard [Rangers].
“But there’s ways you can do it when it comes to the debate over banning heading totally for under 12s.
“I used to love heading balls, probably from the age of four.
“So I wouldn’t take it away from them completely because they will be watching their heroes every day on the TV, heading and scoring goals.
“But you can certainly do things you can help them with by making the balls smaller or lighter or doing heading in a different way without using the heavy case balls.
“You can still have them heading balls to work on their technique, the timing of going to jump, positions to attack – but you have sponge balls and volleyballs that wouldn’t have the impact that a normal ball would have.
“In the football family, we all have to analyse what is the best way because we don’t want to affect development – but we do have to take it seriously because the numbers are too high.”
A big change a-head for Scottish football?
These proposed SFA plans come at a time when Scottish football has struggled to leave an imprint on the international scene.
The notion that the country’s youngest players won’t be trained correctly to header balls – no matter the circumstances – isn’t exactly the most proactive way to combat this.
Whilst the SFA deserve credit for taking the decision to tackle this issue, it is perhaps not as black and white as either a full ban or no ban at all.
Scotland, it’s clubs and the SFA must work together to find a solution which doesn’t hamper the development of the country’s youngest football talent, nor stifles the fun of football for kids.
Because whilst there is an increased risk of dementia when it comes to heading balls, it’s about creating a controlled risk rather than removing the risk completely.
Would you like to see football permanently altered this way?