If gymnasts as young as twelve or thirteen can compete in their senior national squads what stops a 12 year old child from playing professional soccer? Probably the fact that musculoskeletal maturity sets in at age 18 and peaks at 25 to 30 years of age. Having players tackling a player so young can result in serious injuries. Soccer is after all a contact sport. That is why there are age specific leagues and championships.
Julio Cesar Baldivieso who created a sensation by debuting his 12 year old son Mauricio last week for club Aurora in the Bolivian league resigned after the club refused to play his son. Mauricio Baldivieso became the youngest South American player to play in a top flight club. There is no age limit in the Bolivian professional league.
"Sadly, a lot of people did not like my son's debut. It was then a question of my son or my club - and, of course, my son comes first. I'm not going to be told whether I play someone from my family or not.
"The country and the world need to know that in Bolivia talented youngsters get their legs cut off, to make room for foreign players or because of personal grudges."
I wonder if Baldivieso Sr. would have been so chipper if his son was carted off the field with a serious injury that could potentially not only stunt his career as a professional soccer player but his overall physical functioning. The son seems to be more mature about it than his dad.
Mauricio, who had hoped to feature again this weekend against Oriente Petrolero, said: "I'm sad but I have lots of time. It won't make any difference to my life. I'll go on working at both my football and my school studies."