By CHRIS TOTOBELA
The Makana LFA junior league resumes this weekend after a long festive season break. The youngsters can’t wait to get the ball rolling again. These games are always used as curtain raisers to the premier league games. There were some electrifying games just before the break and most teams started showing signs of improvement. The few coaches I’ve spoken to are all looking forward to the kick-off this weekend, but have raised their concerns about age cheating.
Lindisipho Swaartbooi of top side Sophia Stars, which has won so many trophies at this level, said, “There is a lot of age cheating in these leagues and you must remember that most of these boys attend the same school and they know each other very well.”
Coach and manager of newcomers Black Stars, Andile Mpulani, expressed his disappointment about what he witnessed in their first season.
“I noticed age cheating in our first few games and I talked openly about it with other coaches, hoping that it would be dealt with, but nothing happened.
“It is wrong because it teaches these young boys to lie. These boys do not cheat alone: they do it with the help of their coaches.”
Joza Callies coach and manager Louis Ntlanjeni has always been vocal about this issue.
“It is totally wrong and it kills our football,” Ntlanjeni said. “It’s not fair competition at all, as young boys compete against older boys who claim to be the same age.”
This is a very serious matter that all involved need to look at, as it will slowly kill our football.
The last time I spoke to Makana LFA secretary Akhona Heshu about this issue, he admitted that there was nothing more that they could do about it, as players use birth certificates for registration. This thing dampens the excitement that is supposed to be there with soccer fans awaiting the start of these junior leagues.
I think the first step is for the coaches to come out and be honest about their players’ correct ages and not focus on winning at any cost.
Second, the league needs to use proper referees for this league and build it to be a strong foundation. Let us hope that all those involved in this league will join hands and clean up and strengthen this league.