COMPETITION is very good in any sport, but with it comes a lot of negativity.
Football on Saturday with Backlyfield Chivenga
When children of any age group compete against each other, we always want to see a winner and by so doing, we end up finding unlawful ways to win.
Young players need to be taught the value of honesty so they see cheating as a bad practice. Age cheating has taken a toll on our football and is mostly fuelled by the win-at-all-cost attitude by coaches and club owners.
When a child is being developed, it is critical to make sure that they go through the process thoroughly without hindrance.
When they are training with other children of their age, they can see and evaluate themselves and a coach can easily see the difference and work on his players to make sure they get better each day.
If you attend a youth tournament, you will discover that there are always arguments and fights over age cheating.
During the vetting process, kids normally hold their birth certificates and fail to tell their parent’s name or their own date of birth much to the embarrassment of the coach, who would have taken the document from the rightful owner to facilitate age cheating for the benefit of his team.
In some instances, other teams get away with it and win their games due to cheating. Some coaches are known for cheating and they always find a way to win.
When a player, who has been training with their age group is sacrificed to allow cheating, it is painful to them, as they are dropped from the team to make way for the “ninja” players, as they are labelled these days.
This will affect the child and kill his confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, this child may lose interest and stop playing football forever.
If an older player is competing with younger players and excelling, it does not mean that they are good.
They are just being the best in a set-up not meant for them.
He is seen as good, but if you put them in their correct age group, they will not match the standard.
This means that the coach is killing talent development in the two players.
One is older and not playing against his correct opponents and the other one is denied access to compete against opponents of his age group and loses interest.
If he stays, he will hate training because he knows that he will not take part in competitions.
A good coach will make use of the tournaments as a platform to expose children and also monitor the development of the player.
Terrible injuries can be caused by the impact of contact of an older and a younger player during play.
Bullying also starts when the younger player wants to express themselves during training and games.
This bad practice goes on to bigger competitions and it kills the game. We have heard of players who loose contracts and are banned for age cheating.
Other teams and nations are disqualified for using over-aged players.
Forged documents are used and one wonders how much is lost in monetary value to fund such practices and get away with it.
Players who make it to professional clubs due to cheating may find themselves in trouble because clubs have put mechanisms to curb this problem.
Many players around the world have been exposed and this is bad business for a club because you loose credibility over it.
Platforms that are meant for certain age groups must be used for such and not otherwise because the effects of age cheating will haunt us forever.
Coaches must be ready to work with young players and develop them through training and cultivate a culture of honesty.
A deterrent measure must be put in place to punish the culprits.
Winning is good, but it should not be a cause for cheating. Train and develop players and stop cheating.
Backlyfield Chivenga is a qualified football coach. email: firstname.lastname@example.org