Thursday, July 23, 2009

There was an amazing story came out of Bolivia on Sunday. Mauricio Baldivieso became the youngest ever player to turn out for a professional football team, aged just 12 years old.

The kid came on with nine minutes to go for his side Aurora in the Bolivian First Division and beat the previous record, which had been held by a 13 year old Peruvian.

Mauricio turned 13 yesterday and his dad is the coach of the team, so whether this was a genuine attempt at advancing his son's footballing or career or just a cheap birthday present gimick, who knows. Either way, it's farcical.

Even if the kid is a great future talent, he is still just a kid. Aurora's opponents on Sunday, La Paz, showed him what he was getting in to, scything down Mauricio at one point, leading to the players of both sides squaring up and leaving the kid in tears and needing five minutes of treatment.

After the game his dad was said to be "furious" about the tackle.

What the hell did he expect?

No matter how good a prospect the guy is, pitching him in with seasoned professionals as this stage of his career can cause more damage than good. He's not going to develop much if he ends up out of the game for weeks at a time with injuries.

He's just going to be a target for the hardmen of the League and could end up with a career ending injury before he has even become an adult.

There's been a number of great talents discovered and played at an early age. But when they have been pitched in, they've been used sparingly and their managers have used great savvy in developing the players. David Moyes with Wayne Rooney at Everton is a great example of that.

I'm all for young players getting a shot, that's the future that all sides should be developing, but let a kid have a childhood. He's got plenty of years to turn pro when he is stronger, both mentally and physically, and won't burst into tears at hard challenges.

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