Cheating in age still rules roost of junior games

IT IS a farce!

IT IS a farce!

For some time now we have been living in a pimper's paradise.

We have behaved like the proverbial ostrich - stuck our heads in the sand while our bums are sticking out high for all to see and laugh at.

We have had a number of youth and development tournaments lately, the Danone under-12 Cup, the Milo under-13 Cup, the Manchester United under-15 Premier Cup, the Copa Coca-Cola under-17 and you may say it augurs well for the local game.

And that's the way it should be.

But, alas, a problem that was exposed years ago just refuses to go.

By now you must know what we are talking about.

Age-cheating, because of a win at all costs and save our jobs mentality, rules supreme at these events.

Someone laughed when yours truly made a fool-proof suggestion over the weekend at one of such events in Soweto.

A quick look at the age groups brings the observation that coaches and team managers always seem to go a year or two over the required limits.

Sometimes more if the player is shorter.

That then means 14-year-olds play in the under-12 events, 17- and 18-year young men play in the under-15 competitions and so on and so forth. This is a fact.

Otherwise how do you explain the goal that was scored from 80m out in the game between Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town at the MUPC event last Saturday. One would still like to see a 14-year-old do that.

Spectators, match officials, opposition players right up to the hawkers in attendance could be heard voicing their doubts over certain teams and players.

The suggestion that was laughed at was that teams should be told that an event, such as the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) is for the under-11s then the real under-15s will be brought forward.

Unfortunately this is not a uniquely South African problem. It is worldwide.

Believe me. I should know.

Stan Matthews at Supersport United knows it too.

The MUPC tourney at Carrington grounds in Manchester is no place for little boys. They come big there!

Obviously some people within the beautiful game learnt very fast that if you can't beat them, then join them.

But, is that the solution?

Methinks not.

The problem lies with the ultimate prize - a trip overseas for the winning side. Now, who wouldn't like to travel the world?

No 17 or 18-year-old would elect to cheat if there was nothing in it for them.

Some of the boys we watched play over the weekend will never turn professional as they should be there already - judging by their built, height, muscle development and other such requirements.

It is also a sad indictment on all those adults in attendance that they all pretended they were watching the real makoya when in fact some cheats had turned it into a fong kong event.

The solution then would be to keep the prizes local and let's take it from there.

This is a matter for Safa's Youth Affairs and Development sub-committee to interrogate and take strong action on.

For the good of the game.

And, to think we should be writing about the Confederations Cup!