The ongoing Yonex-Sunrise All India Sub Junior Under-13 Ranking Badminton tournament 2022 in Hyderabad has been a talking point among the sporting fraternity for the wrong reasons.
It is alleged that nearly fifty percent of the total participants are over aged, making a mockery of the U-13 national-level badminton tournament being staged at the sprawling Chetan Anand Sports Centre.
The first U-13 All India badminton tournament after a gap of nearly three years saw a huge participation of 626 players from across the country in four events. There are a total of 789 entries including a maximum 384 in the U-13 boys singles.
The week-long tournament, which started on June 19, is being played in the U-13 boys and U-13 girls singles and U-13 boys and U-13 girls doubles categories.
The qualification rounds were played from June 19 to 21, while the main draw action started on Wednesday. Only players born on or after January 1, 2010, are allowed to play the tournament.
Half of the players are above 12 years, says senior national badminton coach
One senior coach has alleged that half of the total participants are over aged and should not be playing the tournament. He said all the over-aged players are killing the players who are playing at their genuine age.
A senior coach, who did not wish to be named, told Sportskeeda:
“Since the cut-off date is January 1, 2010, only players who are above 11 years old or have just completed 12 years can play the tournament. However, I have found that almost half of the participants are above 12 years old.
"I am sure more than 200 players are 13 or 14 years old and some of them look more than 15. You can spot who are over aged and who are not by simply looking at their physique and face.”
The senior coach, who is respected among the national badminton fraternity, has been watching the action at the Chetan Anand Badminton Centre since the first day of the competition.
The senior coach said:
“I am very disappointed with the way these greedy parents and ambitious coaches generate fraudulent age certificates with court affidavits to prove that they belong in the U-13 age category. It will give them results now but in the long run it will harm them.
"However, in doing so, they are spoiling the careers of so many small kids who play with their original birth certificates. In this U-13 age group, a slight physical advantage makes a lot of difference.”
Several furious parents approached the chief referee, but to no avail. The parents formed a group and questioned the organizers about the over-aged players. However, they could not get satisfactory answers from the organizers.
Parents appeal to Badminton Association of India to take strong action against cheaters
Some of the parents wanted to lodge official protests with the organizers but could not do so as they don’t want to be in the bad books of the authorities.
An aggrieved parent, on the condition of anonymity, said (exclusively to Sportskeeda):
“It is no doubt that these over-aged players are destroying the careers of so many genuine kids by cheating their actual age. BAI should take some immediate action to curb this menace.
"Bone tests should be made mandatory before the start of the season for every player, just like the BCCI does for all their domestic age-group cricketers. It will certainly control this fraud to some extent.”
Most of the parents don’t want to come on record fearing action from the BAI which will affect their wards’ future. However, they all want the BAI to take urgent and necessary steps to save their kids' careers.
Another parent said:
“Stringent action should be taken so that these over-aged players can play in their regular age group categories. FIR for cheating under section 420 and banning of the culprit players should be promptly done. Their further participation should be suspended immediately and past results should also be amended at the state and national level. "
The parent added:
A circular should be floated by BAI to their affiliated state units about the strict action against the fraud players."
The Hyderabad tournament will conclude on June 25. The next All India U-13 rankings tournament will be held from June 28 to July 4 in Mohali. Parents are hoping that the BAI will take appropriate action against the cheaters before the start of the next tournament.