A day after the UT sports department banned Minerva Punjab FC junior team for three years for fielding overage players in the final of Administrator’s Cup U-17 Football Tournament against Chandigarh Football Academy in September, the department decided to introduce TW3 (Tanner-Whitehouse3) method, a test which is also used by BCCI to tackle overage problem, to stop such occurrences in the tournaments conducted by the department. Minerva Punjab FC was found to have fielded three overage players in the final, a charge which the Daun village-based club has denied. The ban was enforced after a finding of the committee formed by the UT sports department.
“Fielding of overage players in competitions is a big problem for the organisers as well competing teams. Till now, the UT Sports Department was conducting bone test apart from relying on certificates for age verification. But from now on, UT Sports Department will conduct the TW3 (Tanner Whitehouse3) test to verify the age of players. We have got the official confirmation and clearance regarding this. The tests will be conducted by PGI. Apart from that, we are planning to make the certificate from birth and death registrar, mandatory, along with certificates from school. Regarding the certificate from birth and death registrar, it should be of the same year the player is born. We have observed that some players produced their birth certificates made in another year,” said Mahender Singh, Joint Director Sports, Chandigarh.
The past three editions of Administrator’s Cup, a tournament conceptualised by the UT administrator Lt Gen JFR Jacob (Retd, have seen teams alleging fielding of overage players by opposition. In the recent finals of Administrator’s Cup on September 30 between Minerva Punjab FC and Chandigarh Football Academy, UT Administrator’s own academy saw CFA accusing Minerva Punjab FC of fielding three overage players. Minerva Punjab FC had won the final 2-0 and CFA team submitted its protest about the winners fielding two Manipur and one Punjab player fielding overage players.
After the protest, UT Sports Administration formed an inquiry committee and order of ban was slapped Wednesday. Incidentally, Minerva Punjab FC had also accused CFA for fielding one overage player in the finals. Last year, Minerva Punjab FC had submitted a protest about Cordia Football Club fielding over age players, while in 2016, Youngsters Club had protested about Minerva Punjab FC fielding overageplayers.
Currently the UT Sports Department relies on medical certificates and bone tests, apart from date of birth and school certificates to certify age of players. The TW3 method is bone maturation process-based test and allows accurate estimation of age of players by analysing the x-rays of the lower end of the forearm. This method is supposed to be accurate, six months either more or less. “ “I have joined recently and this step was one of the ideas we were thinking to introduce. About the certificate from birth and death registrar, we will make it mandatory for the certificate to be made in the same year. In present times, nobody waits for more than one year to make the birth certificate. We are not relying on Aadhar or other data. About the Minerva Punjab FC ban order, it was taken after the formation of a committee and the findings held for more than one month,” added Singh.
Meanwhile, Minerva Punjab FC maintained that they did not field any overage players and they were not asked about any proof or told about the ban order. The club’s junior teams have been competing in All India Football Federation (AIFF) U-13, U-15 and U-18 leagues this week and apart from winning the senior I League last year, the club has also won the AIFF junior leagues titles in Ind”a. “We did not file any over-age player and the club was not even informed about the three-year ban order. Neither were we asked to submit proof. After the final, we had submitted a protest about a CFA player being overage and submitted with the requiredevidence.
We got a receipt of the protest but no step was taken. Apart from that, the inquiry committee consisted of some officials from CFA. Minerva Punjab FC have been winning the junior titles at India level too and our players have been playing in AIFF Junior leagues this week also. We will approach the high court about this ban order and will protest the ban,” said Henna Bajaj, Minerva Punjab FC director.