OPINION PIECE: You’re in for a shock!!!

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Football is set for a return in South Africa and while we are all happy, I think we are in for a few shocks due to injury, fitness concerns and injuries. I’ve been looking at global trends around the return of sport and this is what I’ve found.

Note that the league has not divulged details on their exact plans for how the restart will happen. I am using global research to paint a picture of what we can expect in the PSL and #AbsaPrem.

This is not cast in stone.

Physiotherapists are expecting an influx of hamstring, knee and ankle injuries as professional athletes and weekend warriors return to sporting fields after enforced layoffs caused by coronavirus.

While players have run or cycled to keep fit during the closure of training facilities, the Australian Physiotherapy Association warned that was not a substitute for skills like tackling, kicking, sprinting and pivoting.

In Germany’s Bundesliga, football competition injury rates soared when matches resumed on May 16, after some clubs only conducted three weeks of preparation. Expect the same for the PSL.

According to Dr Mason’s research, Bundesliga injuries went from a pre-lockdown average of 0.27 per game to 0.88 in the first round the competition resumed. Similar results occurred in the following three rounds.

Football fan Nqobile Ndlovu.

According to research that I have seen, the first week of the return to training in small groups should be devoted to moderate and high intensity aerobic training performed in a football-specific manner, which is crucial to familiarize players with realistic movement patternst.

This is made difficult by the government and health recommendations on training. For example, players must maintain a distance of two meters to prevent saliva dissemination to other players. So basically, there will be no contact to start with.

We can expect that players will start breaking down from the beginning of intense sessions as some may push themselves too hard and get soft injuries while some may suffer from exhaustion due to the elevated workload. There is still the Covid factor which has to be considered.

In England for example, the Premier League invested £4million (R86.4-million) to acquire coronavirus testing kits as part of wide-ranging health protocols. Each club received up to 80 tests to ensure 40 players and staff can be tested twice a week. Expect similar in the PSL.

If an individual has shown symptoms and tests positive for coronavirus, they must self-isolate for seven days before having to be swabbed again. If they’ve shown symptoms but test negative for coronavirus, they will need to follow the same directive.

If a player tests positive, it’s only him and his family who need to isolate, not anybody else. The rest of the team are tested anyway and therefore, there is no need to isolate the rest of the players.

We have also seen dramatic shifts in form and player performance since the return from football so expect some shock results. We can also expect teams to look different because of Covid related absentees because our case load is increasing and football is not immune.

Even with isolation in a bio safe zone, those players will not be immune to Covid. The UFC’s fight Island and Novak Djokovic’s tournament in the Balkan still had positive cases despite the whole bio safe zone protocols.

That’s it from me today. I hope this helps to give you an idea of what to expect as a fan and what players can expect as well. It’s going to be an interesting time but I can’t wait for PSL football to return.

By Nqobile Ndlovu

You can follow him on Twitter: @TurkishNabs

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