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Stop youngsters heading the ball - daughter of West Brom legend Jeff Astle

By Steven Jones | Football | Published:

The daughter of West Brom legend Jeff Astle has backed calls for a ban on footballers under the age of 10 heading the ball.

Baggies legend Jeff Astle died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 2015

Dawn Astle wants to see stricter controls to protect young players from possible risks like those introduced in America.

Dawn launched the Jeff Astle Foundation in 2015 after her father died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a brain disease found in people with a history of head injury.

Dawn Astle in front of the Jeff Astle gates at The Hawthorns

The famous Baggies number nine died in 2002, with his disease believed to have been caused by repeatedly heading footballs.

Dawn said: “I think there’s got to be more research into it. But if experts are saying children are at risk you should err on the side of caution.

“I don’t think they’re going to miss anything from the game. It probably will improve their football by keeping the ball on the floor.”

Her comments come after Kevin Payne, the chief executive of US Club Soccer, recently said it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up with the United States’ pioneering ban on under-10s heading footballs introduced in 2015.

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Astle played five times for England

The Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association commissioned a study into the long-term health effects of heading and its links to dementia and brain damage.

And in January, European football’s governing body UEFA said it would consider a ban if its own study provided sufficient evidence of risk.

Dawn added: “The most important thing isn’t winning the game as a seven-year-old, it’s making sure that your child is safe.”

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Astle celebrates scoring the winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup final

She also rejected claims that the move could put youngsters off playing the sport.

Dawn said: “I don’t think there would be a difference. It would just be another rule.

"They would appreciate that football actually takes it (head injuries) seriously.”

Steven Jones

By Steven Jones
Trainee Reporter - @SJones_Star

Trainee reporter based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Get in touch via steven.jones@expressandstar.co.uk.

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