In the press at the moment is a great deal about professional footballers who head the ball and dementia. Given the time lag between playing football in your 20s it was not obvious at the time that 40-50 years later you might get dementia. In addition when you are playing competitive sport in your 20s these types of illnesses are things that happen “to someone else a long time in the future”. However, it is becoming clear that a link between heading footballs and dementia does exist and many no need round the clock care.
The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) the union is under fire from families of former England internationals for not doing enough to support families or conduct research. PFA Assistant Simon Barker denies this stating a taskforce is in place, research is taking place and he talks to families who come forward. The PFA has announced a Neurodegenerative Disease Working Group to drive the issue forward. It has been found that footballers are 2-5 times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases.
One thing being promoted is to reduce heading in training, and to consider temporary substitutions in games. This will obviously result in changes to the laws of the game. The PFA stated that is cares deeply about the issues and it has not abandoned families of former players.
Independent Living Owner (Mark Booker) commented “when I was younger I played football and the impact of heading the ball must have consequences. This must be the case for those who made a living from football who headed 1000,s of times in their career. These footballers will require support and care in their later years”