The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Saturday announced a one-time revision of its existing bone age eligibility criteria for the sub-junior and junior leagues.

AIFF revised the existing bone age eligibility criteria from ‘13.40’ to ‘14.00’ for the Sub-Junior league and from ‘15.40’ to ‘16.00’ for the Junior league.

Bone age is the degree of maturation of a child’s bones. It is a clearer indicator of their biological and structural maturity than their date of birth.

Last year in October, the AIFF had decided to conduct youth tournaments based on the athletes’ bone age than their chronological age. In July, it had approved the the bone age determination program – Tanner-Whitehouse3 (TW3), which is used, among other sports bodies, by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

After receiving the initial reports for the ongoing TW3 tests, Chairman of the AIFF Sports Medical Committee Vece Paes informed the chairman and the committee members of the AIFF League Committee that many players’ bone age results had shown readings higher than 13.4 and 15.4, which were the prescribed eligibility benchmarks to participate in Sub-Junior League and Junior League, respectively.

Paes explained that this has happened primarily because of the player registrations that the teams had already done prior to the circulation of the detailed protocol document. As a result, teams registered quite a few players who were born in the first half of the calendar year of 2003 (TW3 test cut-off date for Junior League) and 2005 (TW3 test cut-off date for Sub-Junior League).

To address that issue, the AIFF League Committee has now revised the criteria from to the new one.

However, the committee informed the AIFF administration that this adjustment was viewed as a one-time exception only and not to set any precedence of such nature for the future.

“Biologically, it is possible that someone’s skeletal maturity will be faster than others which is why the bone age ratings can be higher than others and in some cases the skeletal maturity is slower and hence the ratings can be lower as well, when compared to the chronological age,” Paes explained.

“However, the bone age ratings are not meant to be construed as a challenge to the veracity of the chronological age, as claimed by the youngsters and their parents/guardians,” he added.

AIFF President Praful Patel said that the test is just to ensure that players of a similar bone/skeletal maturity play together.

“When a boy or girl is deemed ineligible under this test, we are not stating that the boy or girl is not what his or her age documents are claiming to be. We are just saying that his or her skeletal maturity is higher than the specified criteria for a particular tournament,” he said.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said the players who have become ineligible to participate in either of the leagues, based on the bone age ratings, will not be penalised.