Make room for the Geriatrics

Interestingly, the review of the list of outstanding footballers of Trinidad and Tobago reveals some who were seemingly capable of playing well beyond their youth, others who were not exactly capable yet went beyond their youth and others who knew when it was time to move on and out of the game.
In cricket there was much made about Lara’s age as a factor even though he remained the greatest among test cricketers with the bat with no real joy for the shorter version of the game. We witnessed the amazing run by Shane Warne and Glen McGrath.
Equally, we watched in horror at the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in Mexico City when an aging Brazilian Team could not move on the field of play as the game against France went into overtime. The team lost 3-4 in the penalty shootout. We may recall seeing Zico (33), Junior (32) and Socrates (32) simply too tired for words.
Of course in professional football where there is much support provided players tend to play well into their late 30s but when it comes to the World Cup one finds the eagerness of teams to win ensures that they utilise young legs in addition to the skill capabilities.
The problem for several athletes is their inability to determine when to leave the sport. Gary Sobers had that difficulty. He had problems with his knees. Wes Hall and Rohan Kanhai also seemed not to know when it was time and may well have overstayed their welcome.
In Track and field athletics one still experiences great difficulty trying to understand what happened during the period 1984 and 2000 when it appeared that it was in vogue for older athletes to consistently run faster than their younger counterparts. There were times when observers wondered whether young athletes would ever have been able to get on the victory podium as sprinters went well into their 30s competing at the very top of the sport.
Here at home we witnessed several footballers that were so frequently recalled that one wondered whether age was one of the selection criteria. Patrons were often wary of seeing some of the older players unable to move adequately on the field of play. One may recall that once St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation achieved World Cup status the initial response was the return of a flurry of former players some of whom were too fat for the sport. In one encounter at Arnos Vale some of them experienced great difficulty removing their bodies from the playing arena. Sure, it is a good thing to want to represent one’s country but it is another thing wanting to do so when one is not at all physically and mentally capable of doing so.