Chastain was an extremely successful women’s soccer player, who is definitely best known for a famous image of her ripping her shirt off after scoring a penalty to win the 1999 Women’s World Cup. She is now both a mom and a coach and has started thinking about the repercussions of what about 40 years of heading the ball might do to a brain. She is an advocate of the youth Soccer Safety Initiative, which bans heading for players both in practice and in games ages 10 and under; and strongly discourages heading in games and limits practices to 15 headers/practice for ages 11-14.
Chastain is the seventh woman to donate her brain to the BU School of medicine, out of 307 total donations.
This comes at a time when lots of concussion research is being done, especially after the film “Concussion” was released in late December. The film delves into concussion issues in a different form of football – American football.
While Chastain has shown no symptoms of CTE, she clearly feels that soccer might lead to this because it has compelled her to donate her brain for research. The true question is, have other soccer players done the same in the past? Or will Chastain’s donation set a precedent and now soccer players – both male and female – will begin taking heading more seriously.
And on the side of things that doesn’t revolve around health, how would banning heading at a level higher than a youth level change the game? Many extremely famous goals and plays are due to headers, and athletes being willing to sacrifice that part of their body for the beauty of the game, not to mention to win.