JUNIOR football managers have welcomed the introduction of a heading ban in football training for children up to the end of primary school.

The three football associations in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland issued a statement on Monday confirming changes to their heading guidance, which come in the wake of the FIELD study which showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.

Paul Kendall, manager of Witton Albion under 10s Wolves, said: "I think it's sensible guidance that we will follow but heading is not a thing for us at this moment in time for it to be an issue anyway.

"The amount of times those boys end up heading the ball during a match is minimal.

"We've had 20 to 30 games this season and there's been two goals scored with headers, which is great, but in training it's not as important a part of the game as others.

"It's more important that they learn how to master the ball at feet, learn how to wiggle out of trouble when thy receive the ball under pressure, so we don't do anything with heading in training with them currently anyway."

Rob Hopley, manager of Winsford Diamonds under nines girls' team and an experienced player at Witton Albion, added: "If I agree with it or not, we have to listen to the experts if we're coaching children.

"The experts are the ones who have done the extensive research and passed it on to the FA and then them to us so we have a duty of care to these children.

"We've never involved anything to do with heading in our training sessions so far. We encourage the girls to get the ball down on the floor all the time.

"You're very unlikely to see the girls heading the ball in a match. I can count on one hand how many times the team have headed the ball altogether in the last nine months.

"When they're older and the ball is in the air a bit more as they become stronger physically I think you do need to have some sort of heading technique."

Both men feel some managers at junior level may have thought differently and will now have to adapt to the updated guidelines.

Kendall said: "I guess some may well feel it's a part of the game, it's part of what you can score with, so therefore it's important.

"Going back many years, I used to coach in America where they banned heading long before we've done it in this country at a younger age group.

"When I was coaching there you'd see coaches that might do a 30-minute training session all on heading, and the kids would have been heading the ball dozens or hundreds of times in a short amount of time. At a young age we don't really know enough about the physiological harm that could or couldn't be causing.

"I do get the fact that there'll be some managers who will feel that to show them the correct technique is the right thing to do, but you do that in the right way which is minimal amounts of time spent heading it in training but not at all at this age group is the right way to do it in my perspective."

Hopley added: "Maybe it could be an issue for some managers.

"It will effect the boys' coaches more than the girls because boys tend to do a lot more heading but I don't expect it to effect primary school children in any way.

"I remember the late great Terry Murphy pulling me to one side in training one day when I was at Middlewich Town playing under him and telling me I need to score more goals with my head.

"I took that on board and did work on that part of my game.

"It's a massive skill to have being able to head a ball accurately and with the right power but I never remember many sessions I did as a child which involved heading practice.

"I think you pick it up more in matches rather than training but there are some good practices which children can do when they're older to improve their heading techniques."

Hopley says he is not worried about the impact heading the ball has had on him over the years.

"Heading is a massive part of my game and one of my greatest strengths," he said.

"I've scored a lot of goals over the years with my head but not only that going back for corners, defending by clearing the ball with my head and also being a target man I flick the ball on a lot with my head to my teammates.

"It doesn't worry me personally as such because what will be will be later on in my life, but with the FA bringing this rule in now if it minimises the possible risks to brain injuries or dementia for our kids in the future then we have to get behind it."

The guideline changes stated there is to be no heading at all in the 'foundation phase' - primary school children - and a graduated approach to heading in training in under 12s to under 16s football.

The FIELD study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among footballers, but the decision to update the guidelines has been taken to "mitigate against any potential risks," the FA said in a statement.

Mark Bullingham, FA chief executive, said: "This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.

"Our research has shown that heading is rare in youth football matches, so this guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game."