Age-cheat­ing is hold­ing Africa back


News that fif­teen Un­der-17 Nige­rian play­ers were found to be older than claimed sent shock­waves through the soc­cer fra­ter­nity world-wide. Many of us have been con­cerned about the poor show­ing by the African teams in se­nior tour­na­ments. In Rus­sia, all five African rep­re­sen­ta­tives were elim­i­nated from the World Cup in the first round. South Africa made his­tory for all wrong rea­sons when they were elim­i­nated in the first round in 2010 de­spite be­ing the hosts. Both Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates had to shut down their academies amid ru­mours of age cheat­ing, with both ren­o­vat­ing their academies and start­ing afresh after such al­le­ga­tions. There have al­ways been age-cheat- ing ru­mours in the his­tory of our lo­cal foot­ball fed­er­a­tion. The dif­fer­ence com­pared to the re­cent Nige­rian scan­dal is that Nige­ria’s play­ers were tested sci­en­tif­i­cally while our claims were never ver­i­fied. One of the draw­backs of our con­ti­nent’s foot­ball could pos­si­bly be age-cheat­ing. West African coun­tries such as Ghana, Nige­ria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast are do­ing well in the world ju­nior con­tests, but lack the com­pet­i­tive skill to match their coun­ter­parts in the se­nior di­vi­sions. I think age-cheat­ing, which is as old as the game it­self in Africa, could be a hin­drance. It could be that in try­ing to win by all means, coaches as­sist in age-cheat­ing with the Home Af­fairs of­fi­cials. Of­fi­cials in Africa are no­to­ri­ous for tak­ing bribes to ar­range fake birth cer­tifi­cates and other le­gal doc­u­ments. If a player’s age is ex­ag­ger­ated as a teenager, their legs be­come prob­lem­atic when they reach their later years. Moeti Molelekoa, Welkom

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