Dr Michael Grey, a motor neuro-science expert at the University of Birmingham, believes that children’s neck muscles aren’t developed enough to withstand the shock impact of a soccer ball coming at them.
Grey was among a group of high profile doctors who warned about the effects of youngsters heading balls after scans have evidenced the damage to the brains of professional players.
“I do not think that children should stop sport, the obesity epidemic means we need to encourage them,” Dr Grey told Sky News.
“But we do need to look at rule changes and the way we train children. Children should not be heading the ball. We don’t know at what age children’s necks become strong enough to withstand the movement of the head when the head is struck by the ball.”
While some of Dr Grey’s colleague’s have stipulated 14 as the minimum age for heading, he himself believes it should be case by case.
An inquest into the 2002 death of England and West Bromwich Albion footballer Jeff Astle ruled that he died from an ‘industrial disease’ – brain damage linked to heading a heavy ball throughout his career.
Some schools in the US have already banned children from heading the ball during games.