Aberdeen icon Willie Miller has welcomed the Scottish Football Association’s move towards a ban on heading in the under-12s game.
Gothenburg Great Miller believes the Scottish FA deserves credit for leading the way on the issue.
The Evening Express columnist said: “It is a move that should be welcomed.
“Having watched football at that level, there isn’t a lot of heading going on.
“But to take it out of the game at that age is probably wise, from a health point of view.
“I don’t believe it will upset the game or the development of the young players.
“At the early age, it is about concentrating on playing with the ball on the ground, in any case. It is a sensible move. I don’t think you will find too many people suggesting otherwise.
“It will also give some comfort to parents of the children who play at that age if the potential of head knocks or heading the ball too often is taken out of the game.”
There remains no firm evidence linking heading the ball to a disease but Willie believes it is imperative research in the area continues.
It is understood there is unanimity between the SFA board, the professional and non-professional game boards and medical representatives to recommend such a ban.
It could be in place for the grassroots season, which runs from March to November.
The Scottish FA’s doctor, John MacLean, who was part of the Glasgow University team that carried out the research into the link between football and dementia, said it is crucial the governing body is pragmatic about the situation.
He said: “We can’t wait on the evidence one way or the other on heading.
“We need to take some sensible, pragmatic steps at the moment and that’s largely going to be about trying to reduce that overall burden, the overall times young players head – heading in training is more common than in matches.
“The study was never designed to, and couldn’t identify, why (former footballers were more likely to develop dementia), but I think most people would say, pragmatically, that it would be head injury or heading, in whatever combination that would be.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes also welcomed the potential ban on heading for youth footballers.
He said: “Any initiative like that has got to be encouraged.
“They’ve obviously done their work and the evidence is there that maybe repetition even from an early age can cause problems.
“It’s not part of our curriculum at Aberdeen through our youth academies, heading at under-12s. It’s not something we do.
“If we do individual practice for heading and technique, it’s usually with softer balls or sponge balls.
“It is a skill, though. It’s something that’s part of the game and it’s important in the game.”