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Can national IDs curb age-cheating?

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Football Association of Malawi (Fam) hopes that the on-going National Identification (ID) exercise will help curb age-cheating among junior national team players.

Fam Commercial Director, Limbani Matola, last week disclosed that the association spent about K10 million during the age-vetting exercise for Malawi under-17 national football team, which retained bronze at the Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius.

In view of this, Fam wants to use the national IDs as part of the age-screening process.

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In the absence of the IDs, the association relied on word of mouth from parents, schools and religious institutions.

Nine of 25 players for the junior team failed the test and were booted out of camp before the team departed for Mauritius.

This means that Fam’s money went down the drain as it was spent on ineligible players.

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Matola, therefore, said using the national IDs could be among the cheap ways of identifying eligible players.

“There is progress in terms of curbing age-cheating. The malpractice will, in some big way, be sorted out through the national IDs, once the project is successfully done.

“MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is expensive. For this squad alone, Fam has spent around K10 million just to vet the ages. Each scanned player cost K250, 000,” Matola said.

He added the National Youth Football Association has also embarked on a player tracking and data management exercise for all youth players.

Article three of the Cosafa Under-17 Rules and Regulations only entertained players born on and after January 1, 2001.

However, National Registration Bureau Public Relations Officer, Norman Fulatira, recently said there was no special mechanism to curb age-cheating among individuals during the registration.

He said the specific date of birth to be recorded on one’s ID will depend on the honesty of the owner and witnesses.

“Right now, in the absence of birth certificates, it is quite difficult. For the newly-born, that will be possible because they will be given birth certificates.

“But for those who are old, we will be relying on what the one registering is saying and, of course, details seconded by his/ her witnesses,” Fulatira said.

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