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The FA Introduce New Rule to Phase Out Heading in Youth Football

As the landscape of football evolves, so too do the regulations governing the beautiful game. Today marks a significant milestone as The Football Association (FA) announce the introduction of a new rule aimed at phasing out deliberate heading in youth football matches over the next three seasons.

In 2022, The FA proudly led the charge in adopting the International Football Association Board (IFAB) trial to remove deliberate heading in grassroots football matches at U12 level and below. This groundbreaking initiative was a testament of the commitment to player safety and the well-being of young athletes.

Steve Halls, founder of NexxtGen Football, emphasises the importance of this initiative, stating, "The safety and development of young players are paramount. By introducing this new rule, we are taking proactive measures to ensure that matches at the grassroots level align with our current heading guidance for training."

Over the past two seasons, approximately 16,000 teams and 107,000 players have participated in the IFAB trial, with invaluable feedback collected from leagues, clubs, coaches, referees, and parents. This collaborative effort has enabled us to carefully analyse the impact of the trial and identify areas for improvement.

"We have listened to the feedback from the grassroots community and have adapted the heading trial to further enhance the player experience," explains Halls. "Our goal is to create more technical opportunities for players while reducing potential risk factors associated with heading the ball."

Starting from the 2024-25 season, the new rule will be gradually introduced across affiliated grassroots youth football between U7-U11 levels. Deliberate heading will be phased out, with sanctions in place for offenders, including indirect free kicks and touchline restarts.

"We recognise the importance of supporting players as they transition from primary to secondary school," says Halls. "Heading will be introduced at this natural transition point in their U12 season, ensuring a smooth progression for young athletes."

Throughout this transition period, NexxtGen Football and The FA will work closely with County FAs, leagues, clubs, coaches, referees, and schools to provide guidance and support for the successful implementation of the new rule.

"We are committed to working hand in hand with the grassroots game to ensure a seamless transition," affirms Halls. "Together, we will continue to prioritise the safety, development, and enjoyment of all young players."

As we look ahead to the future of youth football, NexxtGen Football remains steadfast in its dedication to fostering a positive and nurturing environment for the next generation of athletes.


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