TO ALL COACHES AND PARISH SOCCER COORDINATORS IN THE ABSP:
As part of the ongoing concern for the safety of the players participating in the Archdiocese of Baltimore Soccer Program (ABSP), as specifically related to the increased concern about the impact of Concussions in youth sports, the ABSP Board has initiated a new rule prohibiting the Heading of a soccer ball by our younger soccer players, as follows:
(1) The new rule applies to the Under-8 (Clinic), Under-10, and Under-12 age groups. The rule should also be applied to any Parish Soccer Program which sponsors an In-House Program for children in any of these age groups or for their children who are too young to participate in the Under-8 age group.
(2) The new rule prohibits the Heading of a soccer ball in either games or practices.
(3) In general, the new rule has no impact on the Under-14 age group. However, if your Under-14 team includes under-age players, it is strongly recommended that those players be discouraged from heading the soccer ball.
(4) Please see below for a summary of how the new rule will be enforced by the Referee Association which provides the paid referees for our Under-10 and Under-12 games. It is important to note that these enforcement guidelines must also be followed by the volunteer referees who referee our Under-8 Boys and Girls Clinic games.
It is our understanding that the referees will follow the guidelines shown below in enforcing the new rule against Heading the soccer ball in the Under-10 and Under-12 ABSP league games:
(1) Whenever the soccer ball strikes a player's head, the referee must immediately stop play.
(2) Players who head the ball will not automatically be removed from the field (as in the case of an injured player stoppage of play), unless the referee or the coach feels that the player has sustained an injury as a result of the head ball.
(3) Any deliberate head ball during the game will result in an indirect free kick by the opposing team.
(4) Inadvertent head balls (ball hits the player's head but it is not deliberately played by the player in question) will result in a drop ball at the spot on the field where the ball hit the player's head.
(5) Any deliberate head ball in the Goal Box area by the defending team will result in an indirect free kick by the attacking team at the top of the Goal Box.
(6) Any deliberate head ball in the Goal Box area by the attacking team will result in an indirect free kick by the defending team at the top of the Goal Box.
(7) Any inadvertent head ball in the Goal Box area by either team will result in a drop ball at the top of the Goal Box area.
If, in the course of the season, you have any questions or concerns about the manner in which the new rule in being enforced by the referees, please feel free to e-mail Mike DeCarlo, the Chairman of our Referee Evaluation Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.