Restricted Heading Experiment Hailed As Historic Moment


Restricted heading experiment hailed as historic moment

London, Sept 26 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Sep, 2021 ) :The first adult football match to use restricted heading was hailed as a moment that will "go down in history" on Sunday.

Organised by the charity Head for Change, the game at Spennymoor Town in north-east England was arranged to highlight the growing problem of sport-related dementia.

Research by Professor Willie Stewart at Glasgow University shows footballers are five times more likely to develop dementia than other adults in the general population.

The charity match featured former players from second-tier Middlesbrough and National League North club Spennymoor.

Heading was only allowed in the penalty areas in the first half and banned completely after the break.

Ironically, the first goal of the 5-5 draw was scored from a header.

"We wanted to raise awareness for discussion about what the future of the game might look like," said Head for Change co-founder Judith Gates, whose husband Bill played for both clubs and has a neuro-degenerative condition.

"This was a game that will go down in history. This is merely intended to be the starting point of a much wider conversation.

"The time for action is now, the weight of evidence from the studies in this country and the USA means we can no longer ignore this." Nobby Stiles was one of five members of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad to have suffered from dementia after retiring.

Stiles died last year and his family announced they had donated his brain to science in order to assist research into sport-related dementia.

One of the participants in the charity match -- former Middlesbrough defender and Spennymoor's assistant manager Stuart Parnaby -- said the increase in proven cases had inevitably raised concerns.

"Obviously it hasn't really started with our generation yet, but it is affecting those before, and it makes you start thinking, is it going to be me in the future?" Parnaby said.

"It's going to take years for things to change in terms of how football's played, but in terms of how much heading kids can do, that can change.

"It doesn't mean heading is taken out all together, but you reduce how much heading you do in your career by, for example, only heading the ball on a match day."