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‘They write us off at 32’: Ex-PSL goalie challenges African age bias in football

Veteran goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini has emerged as a vocal advocate against ageism in African football, challenging the perception that veteran players lack the ability and value to contribute meaningfully.

While players over 30 in Africa are often categorised as “old” and overlooked, a stark contrast exists internationally, where experienced veterans are valued for their knowledge and leadership. This disparity highlights a deep-rooted age bias within African football.

That’s according to former AmaZulu FC and Sekhukhune United goalkeeper Kapini, who is still active at the age of 39. He made examples of the success of veteran players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Luka Modric abroad.

The trio’s good performances stand in stark contrast to the perception of “past their prime” often faced by older players in the African region.

Kapini is currently playing in SA’s third division – the ABC Motsepe League for Highlands Park. The experienced shot-stopper is now a player-coach, assisting as a goalkeeper coach.

To add, retirement is something Kapini haven’t thought about, as long as his body allows him to play football.

TAPUWA KAPINI Challenges Perception of Veteran Players in African Football

Gianluigi Buffon in action for Juventus in Italian Serie A
Gianluigi Buffon

“When you’re 32, 35 people try to write you off. Football doesn’t play by age. In Africa, I don’t know why they look at age instead of the intelligence of the player, looking at how good is he. If he needs rest, let him rest and play more games,” Kapini told FARPost.

“Look at Themba Zwane; the [SA] national team coach [Hugo Broos] once said he was too old. But look who is helping the national team of South Africa. He’s 34, but he’s still good. Brain-wise, I think he’s the best for the national team.

“Gianluigi Buffon played until 45. An Arab team wanted to give him millions, but he said no. He understands his body. Egypt national team goalkeeper Essam El Hadary played until 47. So why in Africa can’t we have players who can play till 40 or 42?

“Hans Vonk, I think at Ajax Cape Town played until 41 when they nearly won the league with him.

“I think the coaches who are coming in to coach us mustn’t be intimidated by our age and experience. They need to work with guys that are experienced enough.”

RELATED STORY: Veteran goalie Tapuwa Kapini explains his role at Highlands Park FC

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