By Carlos Kambaekwa
“Let us keep the Cosafa Under-17 Youth Tournament clean from age cheating.”
These were the wise words uttered by the Acting Secretary-General of the Namibian Football Association Barry Rukoro at the Youth Championships hosted by Namibia in December last year.
However, the message has now come back to haunt the football fraternity after it came to light that several players who have been named in a provisional training squad of 22 to represent Namibia during the Four Nation Youth Tourney at Walvis Bay next month are a bit long in the tooth to cut their teeth in youth structures.
The players whose identity is known to New Era Sport are fingered to have been tempering with their original birth dates since the newly acquired birth certificates are in conflict with the dates appearing on registration forms with their previous clubs (also in New Era’s possession).
One of the players who ostensibly failed Grade 10 four years ago is reportedly claiming to have been born in 1992 which implies he was still a toddler when he sat for his Grade 10 examination.
Age cheating has been a worrisome phenomenon in African football and the World’s Governing Body (FIFA) has indicated earlier that it would come down heavily on the offenders.
When approached on the imminent embarrassment facing his young brigade, the National Under-17 coach Willem Kapukare retorted: “This problem is mainly aided by parents who constantly accompany their offspring whenever suspicion arise about the players’ genuine age, and we cannot question the credibility of the elders when they physically come to testify under oath over the authenticity of the players’ seemingly adjusted birth certificates.”