Former national coach and ex-technical director of the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Tunde Disu has reiterated his efforts at battling age cheating among footballers in the country through strict regulations introduced by Lagos Junior League (J-League)
Disu, who is now technical director of the talent hunt competition among youth clubs in Lagos State, said the league always tries to enforce the appearance of only players within the right age bracket.
Ahead of this year’s edition of the Lagos Junior League, Disu said they will again ensure a zero tolerance for age cheats when the competition gets under way.
While speaking on the activities lined up for the commencement of the new season, Disu said the J-League will kick-off after all the teams finish their registration formalities.
He further said the organising committee has put on strict measures to ensure compliance to its age limit, adding that the measures they have taken are almost impeccable.
The acclaimed ‘Damman Miracle’ legend, with the Flying Eagles at Saudi Arabia ’89 World Youth Championship (WYC), said all the measures put in place to fight age cheats are not meant to scare any team but to ensure that the J-League remains the best in the country.
Disu expatiated: “For us to achieve the vision of the league, we need to ensure that its integrity is protected. When we say junior league, we mean it’s for youths within certain age range.
“The age range for J-League is 17 years and our 17 is 17. We won’t tolerate any infraction to the league. Our football needs to grow from the grassroots.
“We have put on strict gates toward ensuring that we maintain the age limit, we have to leave minimum room for age cheats. At different stages of registration are forms which will reveal true identity.
“One of the measures put in place is presentation of school leaving registration number by registered players which must be authenticated by the Lagos State Ministry of Education.
“The Lagos State Government has made our job easier in that all the students in the state have been provided with identification number, so any player that wishes to play must have this number.
“Another measure is that the registered players will also go through another test which is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test to determine players ages. We have partnerships with Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for this.
“We can lay hold to many successes achieved by this league. It has been successful so far, and the record speaks for itself.
“Many of the exports of the league are doing well in their respective clubs abroad, players like Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester in the English Premier League, Stephen Odey and Dele Alampasu among others.
“We are not out to scare any team away but we want to assure that the league remains the best junior league in the country. This is a legacy we want to protect.
“Many of the teams for this year’s league are already engaging in pre-season friendly games which will usher in the main league very soon.
“The future of football lies with the way we arrange our developmental programmes. J-League is a developmental programme for football that needs to be protected Austin Okocha.”