February 5, 2023

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Football and science: the case of Cameroon and the exams that can change or save a career

Science and youth football, what is the link and possible support? case stimulated Cameroon U17whose athlete turns out to be older thanks to a wrist check, a little educational expedition with prof. Marco Minito affiliateUniversity of Turinto understand how and to what extent science can be at the service of young athletes, clubs and federations, in order to be able to verify, as in the case of Cameroon, the validity of the declared age.

However, in many other cases, science supports athletes and clubs, in current and future choices, by testing growth “potential” based on examination of some biological parameter. Proceeding from some considerations in the “case of Cameroon”: “Each of us, and therefore also every young athlete or footballer, has his own biological age which may not correspond to the chronological age. In fact, there are those who mature earlier and those who are later, with There are differences in males and females, but in both cases, at a certain point, the likelihood of skeletal growth decreases, and eventually growth in length stops.All elements that can be assessed by x-rays of the wrist, which, as in the case of Cameroon and her children, have been able to prove These boys cannot be of the declared age.”

Science and sports, what is the relationship? Functional assessments of the athlete are now a practice, beyond the ‘traditional’ medical examination useful for identifying possible contraindications to the exercise of the sporting activity. Science in football, which is done through the study of performance and various tests are conducted according to the athlete to be evaluated. Especially in football, some tests are carried out to study the strength of the muscles of the lower extremities, which are heavily involved in sports gestures. Jumping ability tests, for example, are useful for both goalkeepers and forwards. Alternatively, running tests can be used to assess top speed during a short sprint and endurance during a prolonged test. Precious items for performance but not only. These tests are useful for planning and checking the effects of training, for example with amplitude at the start of the season that may be affected by rest-induced conditioning.”

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Science is at the service of athletes, institutions, and society, and also of careful choices about the present and the future: «There are very few facts at the club level to deal with, but the possibility of studying and predicting, for example, growth in stature is developed and expanded, to understand what are the margins of growth: note the chronological age and determine the biological age, sex, race and stature of the parents in genetic terms, it is It is possible to understand what the future development of an athlete might be like, for example. Fact and useful information above all in certain roles, such as goalkeepers, and in certain age groups ».

Yes, because that information, especially in youth football, can inform an athlete’s choices about which role to play, which club to choose to invest in or to focus on one boy over another in their nursery supply chain. And here’s how the assessment of growth potential can also determine and change the career path: «Absolutely – emphasizes the prof. Minito -. From personal experience I can say that by carrying out this type of test in association with some mathematical facts, I can guarantee and recount an episode in which the club was about to “cut” one of its sons, and not because it was not. Considered good enough, however, because he was deemed “too young” for the role he was supposed to play, goalkeeper. However, after the tests, the indication of significant growth potential that had not yet been developed made the company change its mind, which did not let him go and believed in him ».

For those who wish to “dabble” then prof. Minetto advises: «Several calculators are available online, even on non-specialized sites, to estimate growth based on simple criteria (gender, race, parental height, age, current height). Many formulas have been proposed to predict the height of children. However, it must be emphasized that every estimate is made with a margin of uncertainty. For example, there are two simple formulas (Tanner’s formulas) based on parental height:
Tanner male formula: [altezza del papà in cm + (altezza della mamma in cm + 13)] / 2.
Tanner’s female formula: [(altezza del papà in cm – 13) + altezza della mamma in cm] / 2 “

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Cameroon Under 17 cases: 32 detected since adulthood

In the early days of January, an interesting double entendre. many players Cameroon national under-17 team Those who had to participate in one of the international FIFA tournaments in preparation for the Africa Cup of their category turned out to be “older” than indicated. After the 21 players were discovered at the start of the week in the “first round of checks and controls” that FIFA had made mandatory for years in its international tournaments with a wrist check, another 11 players (later called up to discover the first cases) again failed the “pulse test”. A practice coveted by FIFA and introduced in 2009 during the Nigeria World Cup. A case that highlights a truly unresolved problem, especially in African countries where the ability to track the exact age of players was more than a minor detail. A very similar situation already occurred in the youth ranks of Cameroon six years ago, when 14 players failed tests and were subsequently banned from the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. Cameroonian Federation with the voice of its president Samuel Eto’o He released a statement saying that drastic measures were taken immediately and that he would find replacement players:

Here in Cameroon, people are happy that Fecafoot is doing something to try and stop cheating. It is important for the country to give players of the right age a chance. We need to put an end to the manipulation of civil status documents that in the past has tarnished the image of Cameroonian football. Fecafoot urges everyone, especially teachers, to ensure that age groups are respected

toAlso because all of this has become a truly national issue that highlights the shortcomings of the federal oversight system.

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Wrist scan: How can you tell if you are under 18 or over?

The ‘status’ of Cameroon’s under-17 squad, ‘discovered’ with most players declared under 17 and revealed to be ‘older’ instead, has brought to light one of the most sensitive and debated issues on the subject of some athletes’ real ages even in adulthood. And belonging to professional football. However, a ‘case’ arose, because according to practice and regulations, FIFA, for all youth tournaments in which the ‘minimum age’ is a doctrine, requires players to undergo radiographic examination of the wrist In order to ensure the ‘regularity’ of the same by ensuring that all participants are of the age of acceptance. From the condition of the bones, the biological age can be determined and thus the discrepancy with respect to the reported age can be assessed. The reliability of this type of examination is very high. To try and understand how a boy’s “biological” age can be determined, or better understand whether he’s older or younger than 18, here are the criteria and observations that can be made with a pulse check. After 17 years (in men), in fact, the bones no longer have much growth potential (the same happens in women after 15-16 years).

• Skeletal growth stops because the epiphyses (meaning the ends of the bones) connect to the metaphyses (meaning the ends of the long or “middle” part of the bones) and the growth plates stop working.

• In the image published above (obtained from an X-ray of the wrist) closure of the growth plate of the distal radius (largest bone in the forearm) is observed.

• If an adult male (18 years or older) claims to be ‘under 17’, a wrist X-ray may allow documentation that his skeletal (i.e. biological) age does not match the stated age!