Ex-Bafana fitness trainer concerned about the implications of Gauteng bio-bubble at altitude for coastal teams

Joshua Smith during the Nedbank Cup, Last 32 match between AmaZulu FC and Highlands Park at King Zwelithini Stadium on January 25, 2019 in Durban, South Africa.
Joshua Smith during the Nedbank Cup, Last 32 match between AmaZulu FC and Highlands Park at King Zwelithini Stadium on January 25, 2019 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Former Bafana Bafana fitness trainer Joshua Smith has concerns that a biologically safe environment (BSE) for a return to play in Gauteng will not just prejudice coastal teams coming form sea level‚ but can add to these sides’ injury concerns too.

Smith has said that a return to play after 16 weeks without organised training‚ then just four weeks on a training field‚ plus matches coming thick and fast to reach an August 31 conclusion‚ is a recipe for long-term injuries if football does indeed return as planned in the BSE on August 1.

He adds that Gauteng as a high altitude venue adds further fitness and conditioning pressures on the six teams based at the coast‚ including AmaZulu‚ where Smith is high performance manager.

“Football ordinarily has injuries. This is an extraordinary situation with a huge amount of games in a short amount of time‚” Smith said.

“Another thing to consider is that if the bubble is in Johannesburg that’s going to have an effect on teams coming from the coast to Gauteng‚ who have not been at altitude.

“So they’re at sea level‚ you’re now moving up to altitude. How much time can teams be given pre-bubble to go to Johannesburg and try and acclimatise?

“You know‚ it’s a huge amount of factors. Personally I would have preferred it at sea level and a warmer environment. Just because then you take away the altitude factor.”

The PSL’s six teams based at the coast are Lamontville Golden Arrows‚ AmaZulu‚ Maritzburg United‚ Chippa United‚ Cape Town City and Stellenbosch FC.

Clubs will undergo a second round of Covid-19 tests at their home base venues before entering the BSE.

The PSL had hoped for a July 18 kickoff of the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship (First Division)‚ which would have meant just two weeks’ organised training for the clubs‚ but more time for matches.

While Fifa allows a 2019-20 season to go past August 31‚ the PSL has said this is a fixed deadline due to financial constraints.

The PSL’s Board of Governors is meeting on Friday where the feasibility of the August 1 kickoff and perhaps even cancellation of the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica‚ or just the First Division‚ will be discussed.

The PSL suspended matches due to Covid-19 on March 16.

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