This article is written by Chelsea fan George. Check him out on Twitter @georjecb.
There's been a lot of speculation in the media of late as to whether or not English football should ban heading for players up to a certain age. The main drivers of this initiative are those who believe heading a football can cause concussion and serious long term damage, and could perhaps contribute to people developing conditions such as Alzheimer's.
Heading is a huge part of football. World Cups, Champion League Finals and Premier League titles have all been won and lost as a result of headers. And yes, it can be dangerous (as evidenced by the recent injury to Ryan Mason where he fractured his skull as the result of a head collision with an opposition player during an ariel duel) but it's a fundamental part football.
US Soccer banned heading of the ball in under-10 football, and many have called for the same to be done in the UK..
There is significant evidence to suggest heading the ball in the past could cause long-term damage, but that was back when footballs were far heavier and made from leather. Currently, balls are made from highly sophisticated materials, and are far lighter than footballs used in the past. Despite this fact, though, there's still a moderate risk of long term damage from constantly heading a football from a young age.
I'd argue, though, that instead of creating some sort of law or rule to stop children heading the ball, the English FA should simply make clear the risks associated with heading the ball. That way, people can make their own decisions about whether or not their children should take up football as a sport. Moreover, removing heading from the game for children is only going to make them more vulnerable when they become the age where heading is allowed - because they wouldn't know how to head the ball properly.
Every sport has risks, even within football there are tons more risks - not just heading the ball. If we choose to remove heading, an instrumental part of football, we'd risk opening a never-ending can of worms in terms of the health and safety measures which could be imposed onto football. First we'd prevent children heading the ball, then we'd ban slide tackles, then we'd ban contact... where would it end?
To the FA: football is a brilliant sport loved by many. Please, don't ruin it.