Owen da Gama reveals Highlands have left nothing to chance during the 21-day lockdown

Highlands Park players during a training session at their base in Balfour Park in Johannesburg near Alexandra on March 11 2020 before the Premier Soccer League suspended the league programme due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Highlands Park players during a training session at their base in Balfour Park in Johannesburg near Alexandra on March 11 2020 before the Premier Soccer League suspended the league programme due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama has revealed the intricate details that the club are following in their bid to keep the players fit during the 21-day lockdown‚ including spot tests for the players on their lively ‘Highlands Park Lockdown’ WhatsApp group.

All Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs are battling the same problem of how to keep players fit and motivated during the lockdown‚ so that they can be as ready as possible to rescue the season if and when it gets under way.

Da Gama reveals that Highlands have left nothing to chance and are trying to keep an intensity to their training‚ despite having to do everything remotely.

“[Director] Larry Brookstone told the players that no-one leaves the province‚ so they are all still in Gauteng‚ even those from Cape Town‚ Durban etc‚” Da Gama told TimesLIVE.

“The players were given a questionnaire‚ asking who do they live with‚ what transport do they use and so on.

“Our physios Simoné Conley and Chris Kamper then held one-on-one workshops with the players to understand what they know about the virus and what they need to do to follow the rules. So the players are very well informed.”

Like all clubs‚ the players have been given individual programmes to work on‚ and equipment to use‚ but unlike other teams‚ the players are tested on the intensity of their training.

“The players are given a programme every evening to keep it fresh‚ and Simoné selects five players at random who must film what they are doing and upload it to our Highlands Park Lockdown WhatsApp group.

“The players then rate the session out of 10 for intensity and difficulty‚ so we are all in daily contact with the players and doing our best to keep that human contact and interaction going. I count on it and try to create some motivation.

“That is very important‚ because isolation can be difficult mentally. There is no doubt the players miss the team dynamics‚ being able to laugh and joke at training together.

“But they also understand the seriousness of the situation and why we are in a 21-day lockdown and are all following the rules and guidelines.”

Da Gama says they are not looking beyond the current lockdown‚ and will assess what they do when they know if there will be an extension‚ or what the regulations are post-April 16.

“Hopefully things will be under contract somewhat by then‚ but we must prepare for the fact that there might be another 21 days added.

"We will see what the situation is and then Larry will make a call on the way forward after that.”


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