SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Northern California soccer organization has issued new restrictions on headers for youth players, but not every league is clear on what’s allowed.

The California Youth Soccer Association, otherwise known as CalNorth, on Wednesday announced a new protocol on headers which would prohibit heading for players 12 years old and younger in games.

The new rules goes a bit farther than U.S Soccer Federation’s new guidelines on youth players heading the ball, which would prohibit headers for children under 10.

The guidelines issued in November were agreed to as part of the settlement of a lawsuit over concussions filed in 2014 against USSF.

Soccer associations across America are widely following that rule for players 10 and under. “But where there’s some confusion is what’s going to happen with kids who are 11 to 13 years old,” said Po Bronson, board president for SF Youth Soccer.

Part of CalNorth’s new heading guidelines mirrors USSF’s recommendations to limit headers for kids 11 to 13 years of age only in practice.

However, Norcal Premier Soccer, part of US Club Soccer and the other major soccer organization in Northern California, may be “heading” the other way.

“The other one, US Club Soccer, we’re waiting on the announcement,” said Bronson. “The preliminary conversations were that they were going to go with heading in games, but not in practices.”

To summarize –
CalNorth: no headers in games, allowed in practices for players 11-13 years old.
US Club Soccer: header allowed in games, not in practices for players 11-13 years old.

“And so we’re sitting, waiting for clarification,” said Bronson. “Is it going to be legal in games or illegal in games, or good in practice? Or no good in practice?”

NorCal Premier Director of Referees Moe Shafai said the association will not allow headers for kids 10 and under – but will allow them for kids 11 and 12 during games.  The association will set limits for practice headers.

“Welcome to the referee’s nightmare,” Shafai said.

 

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