Brandi Chastain: Get Rid of Heading from Soccer for Kids Under 14

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Most of us got to know Brandi Chastain this way. Her dramatic penalty shot won the 1999 women’s World Cup for the U.S. and made her an instant star. She also helped the U.S. win gold, twice at the Olympics.

Chastain now lives in northern California with her husband and 8 year old son, Jaden. But soccer is never far away.

She helps coach Santa Clara University’s division one women’s soccer team and also her son’s youth team.

It’s perhaps this connection to younger players that has Chastain on a new mission.

In order to protect young players from the rising number of concussions and head-injuries in soccer, Chastain, who herself used to be a formidable header of the ball, now believes heading should be removed from the game for kids 14 and under.

I talked with her recently in California about this controversial position and how she sees it affecting American soccer.

BRANDI CHASTAIN: We don’t need to have heading in youth soccer, 14 and younger, for a couple reasons.

The skill of heading is not necessary at that age. One, because we should be teaching the, the basic skills of trapping, passing, moving, spatial awareness, you know, all these things that they need when they’re gonna be a little bit older that will help them have a better foundation. So those things are way more important than heading the ball.

Two, as a parent, you know, I’m very interested in my son participating in sports for all the lessons and things that I learned that are so impactful in my life as an adult, that and the thing and the joy that I got out of being on a team, but I want it to be safe.

And I don’t think when I, 30-something years ago when I started playing soccer, if not longer than 30 years, that people were talking about, you know, the safety of soccer, and, you know.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yeah, it wasn’t, wasn’t a concern. Nobody, everyone thought soccer was safe.

BRANDI CHASTAIN: Right.

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Source: PBS