By Jugjet Singh
THE ASIAN Hockey Federation (AHF) conducts daily urine tests on selected players, but there is no test done to ascertain the age of players in the Under-21 Junior Asia Cup.
Players, officials and coaches have over the last 20 years urged the AHF and also the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to conduct age-test for junior tournaments, because many of them have noticed that some players seem to remain young forever in a magical manner.
In Kuantan, yet again, many of those who are close to hockey have noticed many anomalies but checks with passports have shocked them to silence.
A hockey true-blood claimed that some players have seen action with him in the junior level, but while he is now well over the junior age, they are still actively playing in age-group tournaments.
The Junior Asia Cup is a World Cup qualifier, and the stakes are very high and age becoming a magical number has seen some impressive results and some disappointing outcomes.
Teams take great pain in preparing their juniors, and when there are alleges elements of unfair play, sportsmanship is thrown out the window and replaced by result-oriented cheats.
Malaysia's preparations, among others, is a great example of how much time and effort is placed to groom youth to become matured players.
Coach Arul Selvaraj and his team of social-science scientists have practically left no stone unturned to nurture the 18 who are in Kuantan to defend their Junior Asia Cup title.
Arul is not only a coach, but acts and rules the brood like a fatherly figure using scientific methods to check their heart-rate, their food (energy) intake and urine tests are conducted twice a day to check the level of water and other minerals in the body.
And he waits at the door to hand them the amount of liquid (one or two bottles of mineral water) when they attend briefings and makes sure they finish their quota of drinks before they exit the briefing.
Arul also pulls the occasional ear, gives the fatherly shelling, and praises players and its a family affair with one objective -- to bring out the best in his boys.
Many other coaches are doing the same to their junior charges, but some are only interested in results and do not care the method used to achieve it.
This is what the AHF and the FIH need to weed out of junior tournaments to give more credibility and accountability to their sanctioned tournaments.
If the parent bodies don't care, don't change, don't give a hoot -- then those who take the right path will always fall victims to scam artists.
NOTE -- WIKIPEDIA ON AGE TEST: The most commonly used method is based on a single x-ray of the left hand, fingers, and wrist.