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Canadians react to ban of headers in U.S. youth soccer

Canadians are weighing in on the recent decision in the U.S. to restrict, and in some cases, ban the use of headers for players in youth soccer leagues. The United States Soccer Federation announced this month that kids 10 and under will not be allowed to use their head to move the ball either in practice or during games. Heading will be allowed for kids between ages 11and 13 in games, but not in practice.

The move is an attempt to help prevent concussions. However, it also follows a class-action lawsuit filed last year against the USSF, among other defendants. The suit, by players and parents, alleges that head injuries among young players were not being monitored or treated properly.

A concussion expert at Alberta's University of Lethbridge says that the move by the USSF is a good one. He notes that heading is not necessary to the game. He hopes that these changes will result in fewer concussions as well as sub-concussive events in young players. The doctor says he thinks that the move away from headers in youth programs is "going to go all the way to amateur soccer."

When and if such changes will be mandated for Canadian youth soccer programs remains to be seen. One program director for a Canadian club that has youth programs says that his organization is "staying the course laid out by the Canadian Soccer Association for right now, but that might change."

Of course, headers aren't the only potentially dangerous moves in soccer. One U.S. Paediatrician notes that it's been found that collisions are actually the most common cause of emergency room visits for acute injuries among soccer players.

If enough parents and others involved in Canadian youth soccer speak up and potentially take legal action, we could see regulation changes that make soccer and other youth sports safer for our kids.

Source: Global News, "U.S. Soccer Federation bans headers for young kids," Kim Tams, Nov. 12, 2015

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