Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa approves plans by the PSL to resume training

Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports during the 2019 Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 27 July 2019.
Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports during the 2019 Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 27 July 2019.
Image: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa has approved plans by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to resume training.

This paves the way for the PSL to conclude the 2019-20 campaign that was initially suspended in response to the coronavirus just over three months ago‚ on March 16.

The return to training‚ depending on the compliance with the plan by the clubs‚ could be as early as this weekend for some teams‚ following the go-ahead being given by a PSL executive committee (exco) meeting on Thursday.

In a statement on Wednesday morning‚ the ministry confirmed that Mthethwa has published and gazetted directions relating to Covid-19‚ level three regulations‚ and PSL plans have been approved.

The ministry gave a glowing report-back on the strength of the plan put in place by the PSL.

“The plans of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) have been approved‚ considering the mitigation strategies and plans in relation to the Level 3 risk adjusted strategy in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic‚” read the statement.

“The Minister of Sport‚ Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa published gazette Directions relating to COVID -19 Level 3 Regulations on 28 May 2020‚ which cover the resumption of sport activities.

“The different sport bodies are submitting their plans‚ indicating their state of readiness and the stringent health protocols they will implement in accordance with the prescribed Regulations and Directions.

“The plans have further been subject to analysis by Health authorities‚ the NICD (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) who have recommended that the measures put in place by the organisation meet and in some instances exceed the required protocol for a safe return to training and to play in a Biologically Safe Environment.”

In their submissions to the minister‚ the PSL said prior to return to non-contact training all clubs must submit proof of Covid-19 testing‚ everybody to wear masks‚ all equipment to be sanitised and each player must use their own water bottle.

PSL senior manager Luxolo September said he could not comment on the development yet.

“There is an exco meeting tomorrow (on Thursday)‚ and I am sure the PSL will be able to comment after that‚” September said.

The exco meeting on Thursday is set to ratify a communication and a go-ahead to the 32 Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship clubs that they may return to training‚ so long as all the stringent measures in the PSL plan have been put in place.

Some clubs have begun putting in place such measures in anticipation of the go-ahead‚ and would appear to be able to resume almost immediately.

A copy of the NSL (National Soccer League) return to training directive that was submitted to the government‚ obtained by TimesLIVE‚ indicates a staggered return to training‚ once all testing‚ sanitisation and quarantining measures have been put in place.

This will be conducted as: “Week One: Staggered sessions with maximum of five outfield (excluding goalkeepers) - all non-contact.

“Week Two: Staggered sessions with maximum of 10 in two groups outfield players (excluding goalkeepers) - minor contact (eg. 5 v 5 drills).”

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