Hot NPL midday games derail players' performance

03 Nov 2015 08:00am


Namibia Premier League (NPL) coaches and players have expressed their dissatisfaction with the scheduling of midday weekend NPL matches in Windhoek.

With 16 teams playing in the 2015/16 NPL season, matches are scheduled from as early as 13h30 in the afternoon. Tiger Football Club coach Brian Isaacs told Nampa football players' lives are at risk when they play games midday, with temperatures rising up to 40 degrees Celsius at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

"I really don't understand why our games are scheduled to be played at 13h30 or 15h00 on artificial grass that is really hot at that time of the day. Players are unable to play to the best of their abilities as the grass is extremely hot and they get dehydrated very fast.

"I would just like to inform the organisers that we are not very far from seeing a player get a heart attack in such extreme temperatures. This is a ticking bomb and maybe only once something happens will people start taking what we say about the playing of games in extremely hot weather seriously," said Isaacs.

NPL Chief League Administrator, Tovey Hoebeb told this news agency the NPL has been scheduling the 2015/16 NPL season games very early because the floodlights at Sam Nujoma Stadium have been broken since August 2014.

"We do not have a lot of stadiums in the country that can be used for night games. We wrote to the City of Windhoek (CoW) to fix the lights and they went quiet on us. At the moment we do not have a choice but to have early games and finish when people can still see the ball," said Hoebeb Black Africa coach, Woody Jacobs told this agency that scheduling games when the sun is extremely hot is affecting the game of football and going forward, league administrators should look into such matters.

"From a medical perspective, we need medical experts to advise us on what dangers we face when playing midday games when the temperature is about 35 to almost 40 degrees Celsius. The artificial grass absorbs heat and is causing blisters on players' toes, which at the end of the day affects their performance," said Jacobs.

He added that apart from players' performance on the field of play, the time that matches are scheduled also affects attendance at the stadia, as fans are reluctant to sit in stands that are directly exposed to the hot Namibian sun. "We are not criticising the league organiser, we just want them to at least have a look at some of these issues," Jacobs said. 

In a letter dated 13 October 2015 that was addressed to the CoW, the NPL expressed its disappointment with the CoW?s lack of urgency in dealing with its request to fix lights at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.

"As you are rightly aware, Namibia does not have an abundance of football stadia around the country or Windhoek for us in the Namibian Premier League (NPL) and the Namibia Football Association (NFA) to pick and choose where we want to play our official and international matches. We only have two: Sam Nujoma Stadium, walking distance from the disadvantaged majority and the Independence Stadium in Olympia, which is very far to reach. We are extremely disappointed and disgusted in the mediocre service delivery at the City of Windhoek," read the letter.

In another letter to the City in this news agency's possession dated 07 October 2015, a local company called Inexma Electrical Namibia offered to assess the specifications and quantity of bulbs at the Sam Nujoma Stadium, with the specific aim of replacing some as soon as possible, but their request also fell on deaf ears.

"I am again re-emphasising that Inexma will do the job in the need to arrest the situation currently prevailing. We will invoice the CoW on the materials and labour costs without any expectations that future maintenance work should be done by Inexma Electrical. Again, this unsolicited offer is attached to no conditions at all," read the letter.

CoW's Head of Sports Recreation, Wacca Kazombiaze said he is aware that the stadium's lights are not working and he has referred the matter to the relevant authorities but has not received any response yet.

"You see, as a person that works with the stadium, I am aware that the lights are not working well and our players are playing on artificial grass that can reach 70 degrees Celsius when the weather is around 35 or 40 on a hot day," he said. He added that the light issue is a technical problem.

"I motivated for the lights to be fixed before Namibia played Gambia in their World Cup qualifiers in October. This game would have seen a lot of supporters at the stadium if it was played at night, but that never happened. If you would like to get to the bottom of this, then try asking the technical department; they might say why it is taking so long for the lights to be fixed," said Kazombiaze.

Attempts to get comment from the CoW Public Relations Officer, Lydia Hamutenya were unfruitful since 21 October 2015.