Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
ZIFA believe one of the measures introduced to curb age-cheating at junior level, with players now required to produce their Grade Seven certificates before national team selection, will pay dividends.
This was first introduced last year in the selection process for the Under-17 players for the Cosafa Championships in Mauritius.
Young Warriors coach, Tafadzwa Mashiri, had to work with a pool of players who had submitted both the Grade Seven certificate and a birth card given at hospitals when one is born.
According to Zifa, the exercise was successful with the right aged players representing the country at the annual regional tournament.
The 2019 Under-17 Cosafa championships, to be held later in the year, will see the players being asked to fulfil these requirements.
Zifa technical director, Wilson Mutekede, said they will implement the same reforms.
“If Africa has to be successful, we have to be strict about age-cheating and not that approach that other associations are cheating to get results so we should also cheat,’’ he said.
“You have seen that with European teams, players really blossom as they are exposed from junior teams at correct ages.
“We are saying let’s give exposure to the correct-aged players.
“The Under-17 coaches have already sent in their proposal programme for April with the selection process lined up across the provinces and these two documents, the Grade Seven certificate and a birth record, will be a must. Last year, we did the same with the Cosafa team that went to Mauritius and it was a team which were 99.9 percent of a correct age. And positively we never experienced any challenges. So we are looking at introducing this from the Under-15 age-group,” Mutekede said.
Sprouting technical director, Masimba Mutame, said some genuine athletes might also be affected.
“How does an educational certificate verify one’s age and even if it shows age, and date of birth, is that proof that ages weren’t adjusted?
“Those who are poor, or from disadvantaged backgrounds, who didn’t attend school would then be disadvantaged,” he said.