US soccer icon Chastain to donate brain for research

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Former US women’s soccer star Brandi Chastain said Thursday she plans to donate her brain when she dies to help research into head injuries in the sport.

Chastain, 42, famed for her memorable celebration of the winning penalty that clinched the 1999 Women’s World Cup for the United States, said she hoped her donation would “change things for the positive.”

“I hope my experience in soccer and what I am able to give back helps put soccer in a better place than it was when I started,” Chastain said in a statement on the Concussion Legacy Foundation website.

“Having played soccer since I was little, I can’t even attempt a guess at how many times I’ve headed the ball,” added Chastain, a veteran of 192 internationals between 1988 and 2004. “It’s a significant number.

“It’s scary to think about all the heading and potential concussions that were never diagnosed in my life, but it’s better to know.”

Chastain has been an advocate of Safer Soccer, the campaign which aims to halt the introduction of headers in youth soccer until high school.

In December, the US Soccer Federation announced a ban on headers for children aged 10 and under as part of a new safety drive aimed at eliminating concussions and other injuries.

The new safety guidelines also limit the amount of headers in practice for players ages 11-13 to no more than 30 minutes a week with only 15-20 headers per player and an emphasis on technique to try and avoid injury.

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