Regional body CECAFA tighten rules to curb age cheating

Monday, February 26th, 2024 03:00 | By
Regional body CECAFA tighten rules to curb age cheating
Sports CS Ababu Namwamba (left) with Cecafa president Wallace Karia during Cecafa’s congress meeting in Mombasa. PHOTO/SPORTPICHA

The subject of age cheating in junior football competitions has been a thorny issue for a long time in CECAFA region and beyond and many believe that the appetite of winning matches or tournaments has propelled the uncouth culture.

This has remained a top conversation in the football realm and it was part of the deliberations when CECAFA Member Associations met in Mombasa, Kenya on Friday 23 February 2024 for the General Assembly.

CECAFA Vice President Isayas Jira (Ethiopia) who is the chairperson of the region’s competition department told member associations that any country hosting age group tournaments must have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) facility that is of Confederation of African Football standards.

“The host Member Association has to have an MRI facility in the city. Unless otherwise, we will not send our boys and girls to play. Kindly be serious on this issue. You must have an MRI facility and that is of CAF standards.”

Jira further noted that any country that would be found with six or more players who are over the required age bracket would be disqualified from the set competition.

“When we go to CAF competitions, if there are two or three players above the required age group then the team is eliminated and therefore we have discussed this at Exco level. Every Member Association has the opportunity to register 23 players for competitions and if five players are found to be over aged then the team can feature in the tournament with 18 players. But if six players from the same team are ineligible to play because of the age matter then the whole team is disqualified,” Jira said in the CECAFA General Assembly.

Rwanda Football Association president Alphonce Munyantwari was the first to comment on the matter and asked the Member Association to give the subject of age cheating uttermost attention since it has been a thorny issue as far as football development in the region is concerned.

Uganda has for some time now been on the receiving end as far as age cheating in the region is concerned. Teams from Uganda have in the recent past conquered in regional age group competitions and last year, Uganda Cranes juniors triumphed at the CECAFA U18 tournament held in Kenya, beating the hosts 2-1 in the final in Kisumu. Uganda further cemented its aptitude in age group tourneys by winning the Pan African School Championships qualifiers at Kasarani, Nairobi for both girls and boys categories last December.

Federation of Uganda Football First Vice President Justus Mugisha told the General Assembly that it was not fair for Uganda to win competitions only for them to be told that is because of age cheating. He recommended the use of MRI technology even in U15 players.

“When we host these CAF competitions (CHAN and AFCON), we must ensure that our teams perform well. To achieve this we must work on this issue of age. I know that MRI works for U17,but what about the U15?, we can be playing players in the African Schools championships who cannot pass the MRI test for U17.What are we doing about that? Because some of us like Uganda who have been winning, it is not fair for you to win and later be told that is because of over aged players. You beat everyone on the field and somebody says you are over age and the blame goes to the organizers.

CECAFA president Wallace Karia called on Member Associations to embrace the School competitions as the base of solving the age cheating menace in the region.

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