Heading in football: Campaigner Dawn Astle welcomes restrictions

Astle Day stand tribute at The Hawthorns
Jeff Astle Day was set up in 2015 in memory of the West Bromwich Albion great

Campaigner Dawn Astle has welcomed new Football Association guidelines restricting heading in youth football as "a really sensible way to make the game we all love safer".

The daughter of former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle has campaigned since her father's death in 2002.

Coaches have been advised not to include heading in training for children of primary school age.

"We must take steps to avoid exposing children to risk of trauma," she said.

Children aged 11 and under will no longer be taught to head footballs during training in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The new FA guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do.

The guidance, which will not yet apply in Wales, will affect training only.

Dawn Astle told BBC Radio 5 Live: "There is a major, major issue in football with former players dying of neuro-degenerative disease.

"We have a problem and we have to deal with it. There's a lot more to do but it's a great start and a real step in the right direction."

Jeff Astle, who scored 137 goals in 292 league appearances for West Brom, died 18 years ago from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), believed to be caused by repeatedly heading leather footballs.

Experts have found ex-players are more than three times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.

Dawn Astle added: "By saying there's no heading in training for primary school children is a really sensible way to make the game we all love safer for all those involved."

She would now like to see authorities go further and issue guidelines for over-18s in training.

"I've always believed, and my mum has always believed, that my dad's problems - what ended up killing him - was the amount of heading of the ball he did in training," she said.

"I believe it's the cumulative effect of that which is ultimately killing the players."

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