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Mom, where did I come from?

LITTLE Mpho returned from school with homework and as usual she trusted mommy would help out.

“Mom, where did I come from?” the third grade pupil asked with gusto.

Mommy was a little perplexed as if she didn’t know the answer.

She was quiet for a couple of seconds.

“Mom, where did I come from?” Mpho asked again.

“Eerrrhh,” mommy sputtered. “We got you from God.”

“How come Thabo said he came from Qacha’s Nek?” the inquisitive daughter asked.

Discussing sexual issues with children has always been tricky for almost all parents.

Some mothers would rather chase their children out to play than to answer the question.

Others, the “smart” ones, would give weird responses as if they don’t know the answer.

Many in our football have found themselves in little Mpho’s mommy’s predicament.

After Makoanyane XI qualified for next year’s African Youth Championship, one big question has been begging for answers.

What happened to Lesotho’s Under-20 side that qualified for the same tournament in 2005?

“We committed a mistake after they qualified,” Lesotho Football Association president Salemane Phafane told the Sunday Express.

“We asked someone to build a (senior national) team, and what did they do? They diluted it.”

True, but kind of mommy’s we-got-you-from-God answer.

The real answer could be lying in what almost everyone knows yet very few dare say.

Mpho’s mommy couldn’t answer straight because she thought her kid was too young to hear about sexual reproduction.

Likewise many in our football have skirted the real answer because they fear being branded party poopers.

Age cheating has been rampant in African football for years.

So common is it that some players are known to have two ages — the football age and the real age.

With the identity documentation crisis we have in Lesotho, nothing can stop players from easily falsifying their ages.

It’s so easy even for a 30-year-old footballer to get a passport claiming he is 17.

I hope none of the Makoanyane XI players who made the nation proud last week has done that.

Because that’s precisely what has dogged African football for years.

We have seen African teams dominating world youth tournaments but failing to develop into world beaters at senior level.

Most of them simply fail to turn into superstars because such age cheats will be at their peak at the time people think they have potential.

It might be easy to forge ages so as to dupe foreign clubs about one’s youthfulness and therefore potential, but certainly no one can cheat age.

Age cheats fade sooner than they reach their “potential”.

What exacerbates the scandal is that football custodians in Africa appear reluctant to fight age cheating practices.

You actually find administrators conniving to alter players’ ages to enhance a team’s chances against genuinely young opponents.

That’s why junior football tournaments are largely inconsequential to the development of African football.

It is my hope that Lesotho is watching out for age cheats — because a few years from now we don’t want to be asking the same question again.

With genuinely young players we are guaranteed of a competitive team likely to be intact for a longer period.

It is with this view in mind that local coaches and administrators should stop abetting players to falsify their ages.


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