Pirates shuts down its youth wing
Orlando Pirates have announced that they have shut down their youth development wing pending an investigation into age-cheating.
Allegations of age-cheating have followed the junior Buccaneers, especially their Under-15 team that won four Nike Premier Cups in the last five years, an exclusive youth competition with the ultimate prize a place at the annual event hosted by Manchester United in England.
The head of the programme, former Bucs coach Augusto Palacios, has always denied the claims that there were over-age players in the system.
But the latest stance by his club has effectively left the Peruvian-born without a job – for now.
Pirates’ move replicated that of their township rivals Kaizer Chiefs who a year ago also took the same route after age-cheating allegations clouded their youth programme.
In a statement released by Pirates today, the club said:
»Unfortunately we are extremely concerned to have learned, recently, of instances of age cheating at our youth development programme.
It appears to be of a magnitude that calls for an immediate, and extensive, investigation.
»Orlando Pirates Football Club is suspending its youth development programme in order to ensure that its investigation into age fraud does not disrupt the schooling of the youth in the programme.
»The full scale investigation that the club is undertaking is as a result of the preliminary investigation that has identified occurrences of age cheating in our youth programme.
»This is of grave concern to the club as this practice does not only go against the Pirates value system, it is first and foremost, an illegal act of criminality that goes against the law.
It is therefore incumbent upon the club to take immediate and drastic action.
»This process will start with a full scale investigation that will be far reaching as it has to result in the total eradication of this problem and help us put systems into place to avoid any recurrence.
»To this effect, parents have been advised to make arrangements for their children to return to school nearer their homes under their complete supervision.
»The parents have also been urged to help in the investigation through their participation when duly requested.
»To ensure the investigation is thorough and unhindered, the club cannot at this stage indicate when the investigation will be complete.