The news emerged yesterday: the basketball teams of both boys and girls sent by the Burundi Basketball Federation – FEBABU – to represent Burundi in the FIBA Africa U16 Qualifiers in Rwanda, have been disqualified for presenting false information about their age. This was discovered, through IRM tests conducted by specialists from FIBA Africa. What a shame.
Out of all the players in both the boys and girls teams, only one individual, a young lady, was found to be under the age of 16.
Upon hearing this news, I immediately went to a basketball federation member to seek clarification. His response was shocking. Instead of confirming or denying the news, he nonchalantly remarked. “You know very well the issue of lying about players’ ages is common in Africa and not limited to Burundi? So it’s nothing new under the sun!” The lack of accountability and regard for fair play within this answer is a shame and a disservice to the sport.
This excuse of “others do it too” is a weak one and shows a lack of basic morality that cannot be excused. Especially since age falsification in sports has many negative consequences, such as blocking the chance for younger players.
Falsifying young player papers by bribing officials also teaches robbery and deceit, as players will believe it is acceptable to lie to achieve one’s goals in life. This is detrimental to society.
Adding to the aforementionned points, It is a disgrace for the country to be known for this kind of cheating, especially in a technological era where age can easily be determined. Therefore, participating in this practice is ultimately counterproductive.
Could this case serve as a wake-up call for those in charge of other sports federations? While today it’s basketball, we know the reality is the same in other federations as well.
Engaging in such deceitful acts is detrimental to the country and those in leadership positions within sports should prioritize the promotion and development of young talent through tournaments in lower divisions as this is one of the approaches capable to lead to a brighter future for sports in our country.