Statement from the Board
“In light of published research conducted by Glasgow University with regards to brain injuries, Stenhousemuir FC has implemented a ban on all teams and players under the age of 11 from heading footballs. This ban covers all training sessions and was introduced back in November 2019. We accept that a complete ban would be difficult to implement in games. In order to continue building heading technique and skills, the club is introducing softer balls specifically for this purpose.
Whilst the research carried out thus far has been limited in its findings, there is an emerging picture that is enough for us to take a precautionary approach with our younger age groups.
The debate around the repetitive heading of a football having a connection to brain injuries has been around for the last few decades. However, the research work commissioned by the FA and PFA, and undertaken by Glasgow University, is the largest to date and the first to provide evidence of a greater risk of brain injuries in later life for professional footballers.
There is a lot of further work that still needs to be carried out, particularly around the design, flight and speed patterns of the modern football. However, we must note the risks to young people in their formative years when their brains are still developing.
The Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) has recently suggested that players under the age of 11 should not be heading the ball in training and it should also be eliminated as far as possible in games.
Taking this into account, together with comments from the Scottish FA President Rod Petrie that football should take a lead on this, we have decided to implement this ban.
There will no doubt be further information on this subject over the coming weeks, months and years and we will continue to review our policy in light of any new evidence received.
Whilst we accept that there will be divided opinions on this policy, we hope that there is recognition that this move is a precautionary approach in order to protect the current and future health and wellbeing of our younger players.
The care of young people who choose to be part of Stenhousemuir Football Club will always be our top priority. “