SA U17s in age-cheat testing


Amajimbos will take on Tanzania on Friday, 18 July in the capital Dar es Salaam. Kick-off is at 16h00 local time in Tanzania (15h00 SA time).

READ: Amajimbos prepare for AYC qualifiers

The players who have been invited to camp are undergoing the mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans (MRI) of the wrist – a process that determines one’s age group.

The tests will be conducted on Friday, 27 June with the training commencing on Saturday, 28 June.

Writing in the October 2009 issue of FIFA World, a FIFA Magazine, Dr Yacine Zergui, a member of the FIFA and CAF Medical Committees said: “In the past, overage players have been wrongly entered into various youth competitions, often benefitting from an unfair advantage due to their greater physical maturity compared to players of the proper age. Until now, the main way of checking a player's age was to look at the date of birth stated in his or her passport - but this does not always solve the issue.

"We know that it is not generally bad intention or purpose if players are biologically above 17 years. In some countries, birth certificates are inaccurate or even not available, without that necessarily being the fault of the player or the association."

The article continues to say that to tackle this potential problem, they decided to conduct the tests in order to level the playing fields.

“At age 17 the human being stops growing and when that happens you can determine scientifically whether a person is 17 or not. So an MRI scan of the wrist is done which focuses on the growth plate – when it is completely closed it prohibits anyone from claiming to be under 17 years of age. The scan is reported to be 99 percent reliable and has been widely accepted by the football fraternity, led by FIFA, as a reliable way of determining age cheats,” said Dr Tshepo Molobi, SA U17 team doctor.

“As matters stand it is a FIFA requirement and there is even a journal to support the argument, and is led by the chief medical officer at FIFA. This is used in youth tournaments, particularly in the U17 tournaments. Assumption is that the growth plate will close beyond 17 years of age. The scan will reveal that a player is either under 17 or over 17 but will not say the exact age if the player is over age.”

The FIFA article continues to say when it comes to FIFA's own competitions, the world football's governing body is encouraging and supporting participating member associations to conduct their own MRI tests in the build-up to youth tournaments in order to ensure that players are compliant with the age limit.

Amajimbos will have training sessions on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before departing for Botswana on Tuesday, 1 July to play in two friendly matches. They will then move to Lesotho for two more matches before heading to Tanzania on Tuesday, 15 July.

SA U17 fixtures:

Thursday, 3 July            
Friendly vs Botswana (away)

Sunday, 6 July        
Friendly vs Botswana (away)            

Thursday, 10 July        
Friendly vs Lesotho (away)
Sunday, 13 July            
Friendly vs Lesotho (away)
Friday, 18 July            
Qualifier, 1st Leg vs Tanzania (away)

Sat/Sun, 1/2 August        
Qualifier, 2nd Leg vs Tanzania (home)