Mbabane: The Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) will await government to relax restriction under the current COVID-19 regulations before embarking on ‘operation football restart’.
Eswatini Football Association (EFA) had earmarked Monday June 15 to begin the first of four phases to resume football. PLE Chief Operations Officer (COO) Pat Vilakati highlighted that clubs will be guided by government as some, if not all ‘operations will defeat the COVID-19 regulations.
Currently, under the ‘dark coronavirus climate’, government does not allow a gathering of more than 20 people.
“Clubs are not ready because there has to be a detailed plan for the EFA phases which include quarantine sites among others. Also complicating matters is the fact that players in the respective clubs are not housed together and some do different things for a living outside football,” Vilakati said.
EFA’s four-phased strategy to restart football:
• Biological phase: which in essence is a pre-preparation period where the major
Activities will revolve around the preparation of football clubs, match venues and legislations for the resumption of football competitions and the larger business of football.
This will be the most critical stage where there will be testing of football players, officials, and match officials to establish the COVID-19 status, including the preparation of match venues and appropriate regulations. This is planned to take two (2) weeks.
• Preparation phase: Involves the resumption of training of football clubs, which has also been divided to individual training sub-phase to take one (1) week, and group training sub-phase to take two (2) weeks. This phase will take a total of 3 weeks, when taking into account the one (1) week individual training and two (2) weeks group training.
• Pre-competition phase: In this phase the whole teams will train, including the playing of practice matches. This phase will take one (1) week.
• Competition phase: This will be the last phase of the strategy, which will be basically the implementation of the competitions. This phase will take 8 weeks; and could be extended to 10 weeks depending on the concluding rounds of competitions, some which may need to be played concurrently, hence requiring an extended time.
The whole strategy is estimated to take 14 weeks, a period which could be extended to 16
weeks, in the event the competition phase is extended by two (2) weeks.
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