Huh? but...Huh? --------------------------------------- ‘Teen’ basketball player says he didn’t know he was 29 Jonathan Nicola told officials he wasn’t lying when he allegedly posed as a teenager to attend high school in Canada — he just didn’t know his real age. VIEW 2 PHOTOS zoom JORDAN CASCHERA / PHOTO Jonathan Nicola, 29, was detained by Canada Border Services Agency officials after allegedly posing as a 17-year-old high school student in Windsor. The 6-foot-9 Nicola is shown in action on the Catholic Central High School's basketball team. By: Nicholas Keung Immigration reporter, Published on Tue Apr 26 2016 A 29-year-old South Sudanese man told officials he wasn’t lying when he allegedly posed as a teenager to attend high school in Canada — he just didn’t know his real age. Wearing a loose orange jumpsuit, Jonathan Elia Nicola, who has been held by immigration since April 15, attended a brief detention hearing in Windsor on Tuesday and was ordered to remain in custody because he was considered a flight risk. He did not provide further testimony at the hearing, but at an earlier detention review, the 6-foot-9 Nicola, who was enrolled in Grade 11 and played basketball on his Windsor high school team, said he did not know how old he really was because his mother kept telling him different ages. “I aways keep asking what is the specific age that I was born, and she has told me that she could not remember,” he told the April 19 hearing. “Over (in South Sudan) . . . not every year we study . . . we always keep moving to different schools, and over there, they do not ask your age. They do not ask you nothing,” Nicola said. All he wanted, he told officials, was to get a good education in Canada so he could support his family back home. “I am not a liar person. I am religious. I pray to God . . . If something bad happen to me here, I do not know what would happen to my mother back home because she is really sick. She has diabetes,” Nicola said. “I did not came (sic) here to harm any people or do something bad. All my goal is to study and get the education, so I can go back home, I can help my mother, I can help all my rest of the family.” You might be interested in 'Teen' basketball player who’s really 29 faces being bounced from Canada Ontario Catholic elementary schools quietly admitting students of all faiths Sisters struggle to rescue ailing mom stranded in Ghana Student chefs offered tuition refunds if they return to India According to a transcript of the April 19 hearing, Nicola arrived at Pearson International Airport last Nov. 23 on a student visa to attend Catholic Central Secondary School in Windsor on a full scholarship. It is not known who provided the scholarship but a spokesperson for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board confirmed it does not offer athletic scholarships. It is also unclear how Nicola could have successfully gone through so many levels of screening — by immigration officials at the visa post that issued the student visa, border authorities at Pearson airport and the school board that enrolled him as a student. Nicola told officials he met a “Coach Steyn” in South Sudan who helped him with his application to Canada. He did not provide further details of how he met this coach, their relationship and where he is now. “I told him, no, I was not born in 1998. I told him that I am too young for 1998. I’m not in 1998. Then he told me, ‘No, you go back ask my mother, ask my mother how old am I.’ And my mother she do not even remember. She told me 1993, 1990,” Nicola said at the earlier hearing. “So I went back and this guy he just do me the paper . . . he did the whole papers. He did everything.” It was not until December when Nicola applied for a U.S. visitor’s visa to play basketball with the school that Canada Border Services Agency was alerted by their American counterparts that his fingerprints matched a former failed refugee claimant with the same name but a different age. His student visa application and passport to Canada said he was born on Nov. 25, 1998, but the records with U.S. authorities showed his date of birth as Nov. 1, 1986. “The United States officials also advised that he had also applied for a United States visa in Nairobi that was refused in April 2015 . . . where he was applying to enter the U.S. as a student on a full scholarship,” said Kelly Cutting, counsel for the Canadian border enforcement agency. Nicola’s application for a U.S. travel visa was denied in January, but Canadian officials only took his fingerprints to Windsor police two weeks ago for examination, confirming they were a match with the U.S. record, Cutting noted. Information from U.S. officials also indicated Nicola and his siblings were born in Saudi Arabia where his father, a mechanical engineer, has remained after separating from his wife who returned to South Sudan with the children. At his earlier hearing, Nicola pleaded with Canadian officials to let him return to South Sudan. “Please if you let me, send me back home, it would be much more better for me and for my family and for my mental health,” he added before apologizing to his Windsor high school coach, Peter Cusumano, with whom he had stayed since his arrival in Canada. Nicola said he was sorry for what happened and what “they have to deal with.” Nicola’s plea for release was denied by adjudicator Valerie Currie, who said she believed he deliberately deceived officials so he could come to Canada to study and to support his family. “I understand your desire to do that, but the way you have gone about doing that is frankly, quite illegal,” said Currie, according to the transcript. Cusumano and a Sudanese minister from a Windsor church also attended Tuesday’s hearing, but no bond was posted. They both refused to comment on the case. Nicola’s next detention hearing is scheduled for May 24, pending an imminent admissibility hearing, which will determine if he will be removed from Canada. Immigration officials declined to comment on Nicola’s case, but said all foreign visitors and students must meet stringent requirements to be admitted to Canada. People from 29 countries, including South Sudan, must also submit fingerprints and photos when they apply for a visa.