Power failures cause dismay

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

As it has done with every facet of South African life, the phenomenon known as load-shedding might rear its head within the game of billions.

Hoping that soccer matches would not be affected by this process was always going to be unrealistic.

And when the Nedbank Cup last-16 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns had to be stopped twice on Sunday night at King's Park Stadium in Durban because of power failure, load-shedding was automatically thought to have been the culprit.

Since most matches are played at night, the concern is whether our stadiums have the capacity to handle the problem, should it arise.

PSL's chief operations officer, Ronnie Schloss, said the problem during the Chiefs-Sundowns match had nothing to do with load-shedding.

"There was a power failure, and the problem was not related to load-shedding," he said. "We always work with individual municipalities and Eskom to ensure that when games are on, there are no total blackouts."

Schloss said referees were also aware that should there be an electricity problem, "they should endeavour to ensure the game is completed that day".

Gary Parker-Nance, King's Park Stadium manager, confirmed that the the power failure at the stadium on Sunday was because of a problem at Umlazi and Newlands.

"The council has been very supportive and does not schedule sheddings when we have a major event coming up," Parker-Nance said.

"We are considering getting generators to power our floodlights during emergencies.

"Both us and the council obviously want big games to keep on coming to Durban, so we have to avoid problems at all costs. We have been lucky so far, and have not had any major problems.

"We have been accommodated by the council so far. Our generator takes about 10 to 15 minutes to warm up, and as part of the 2010 and post-2010 upgrading process, we want to get our own generators."

Players would possibly become affected by frequent stoppages, and Santos coach Major David Bright singled out possible injury to the hamstring.

"The breaks can be detrimental to the players, no doubt about that.

"Soccer is a 90-minute game, and both sets of players will be affected, as was the case yesterday (Sunday).

"Also, if one team is putting opponents under pressure and they suddenly have to stop, their momentum - which would perhaps have resulted in a goal - is broken, and they have to start from scratch," Bright said.

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt agreed: "It depends on how long the game is stopped. It is very difficult for the players, but you just have to keep them warmed up."

Justin Durandt, manager of the Discovery High Performance Institute, said frequent stoppages were not a problem for players, except in cold weather, and even then the break had to be more than 30 minutes.

"When there is a serious injury on the field, the matches are sometimes stopped for about five minutes, and there is no problem. The problem arises when in cold conditions the players are continually cooling down," Durandt said.