DDSL and FAI Need to Quickly Bring in ID Cards

ID Cards for schoolboy and schoolgirl players are being called for and discussed every week at football pitches across the country.

We all know the term ‘they’re playing a banger’. It’s been happening for decades. Underage teams would play a player or two from an older age group or a higher level. All with the primary goal of winning that game no matter how fair it is to anyone.

Often players who train and play for a team get benched to bring in bangers who would give the team a better chance of winning a game. This merely stumps the development of these benched players. It also takes their joy for football away and risks losing some of these players from the game.

It has always baffled me why we have structured age groups and playing levels but offer no policing of this to encourage fairness within these leagues! It’s really not hard to police.

ID cards

There are many different ways that ID cards could help leagues have a level playing field. Firstly as mentioned, older players would be unable to drop down into any younger-aged games. A simple check by the game’s official before each game of all cards and players available puts an end to that.

Another way managers and coaches cheat in these leagues is by playing players from the same age group but from a higher level within the same club. Again this is with the sole purpose of winning the game in front of them at any cost. Mostly at the cost of the development of the players within the team’s squad by taking game time away from them.

The one situation which coaches seem to feel justified to unbalance another league (because they say they are developing their players by giving them more game time) is by playing a Saturday Red or Premier team in a Sunday division at the same age or a year up. The league that they play in on Sunday is normally not at the same level they are playing in and then they unfairly dominate the league. This is not right!!

If clubs wish to have their teams play on a Saturday and a Sunday then the leagues need to accommodate these teams in appropriate competitions. They should be designed with the view to develop these players and to make sure lower-level leagues/players are not affected.

League of Ireland

Also any players not signed up for the club/team would not have an ID card. This would mean League of Ireland underage players during their off-season could not drop into any team they wanted. Again this creates unfairness within the league.

An ID card with a photo, name, club, age group, and division would make sure players play for their one and only team their appropriate level for the entire season. It would give every team, manager, coach, and player in every league the knowledge that there is a level playing field in every division.

I mentioned the DDSL in the title as they are the largest league in the country for kids’ football, but this is needed countrywide. While a couple of leagues have implemented ID cards, most have resisted. The fact that this cheating has been allowed in these leagues for decades has damaged the integrity of these schoolboy and schoolgirl leagues.

I would call on the FAI to ensure that this is stamped out so enjoyment in football is shared at all levels. If there is something in the pipeline we need to hear about it. The time is now.

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