Sports centres step up to boost PSL’s quest to complete season
Matches could be played in July if the league gets the green light from the government
Several facilities have stepped forward offering to help the Premier Soccer League (PSL) if the government gives the green light to a plan to restart the season.
Business Day reported on Monday that Sun City Resort in the North West province was viewed as a possible venue to accommodate all 32 clubs — 16 from Premiership and 16 from the GladAfrica Championship — in a huge camp as a precursor to the restart and more facilities have now offered to help.
Royal Bafokeng Sport (RBS)‚ the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre (HPC) and the High Performance Institute of Sport (HPI) at North-West University have all expressed interest in helping the PSL to complete the season that was interrupted by the arrival of Covid-19 in March.
The three facilities are world-class and were used by teams during the 2010 World Cup. They have continued to be used by top international athletes as summer camps since the global showpiece a decade ago.
RBS played host to England in Rustenburg‚ the HPC welcomed then coach Diego Maradona’s Argentina side in Pretoria while the HPI rolled out the red carpet to champions Spain in Potchefstroom.
“Royal Bafokeng Sport would welcome the opportunity to explore and assist SA sports‚ including football and rugby‚ as a potential venue that can play host to games‚ and as a preparation venue for the resumption of sports leagues in a controlled and secured environment‚” said RBS sports consultant Emile Smith.
“We have the sports infrastructure at our facilities‚ we have the high-performance centre gymnasium‚ medical suites‚ playing and practice grounds supported by two hotels.
“We also have several more isolated and independent hotel facilities within a 20km radius that can be scaled and managed for this purpose once national and provincial regulations allow for the safe return of sport with limited effect on resources required against the Covid-19 fight.”
The plan will be proposed to the government, and the matches could be played in July if it is given the green light.
HPC CEO Toby Sutcliffe said the centre would be keen to assist the PSL if the government let it open the facility and sport was given the go-ahead. “We will be keen to help, but we are bound by what the minister of higher education [Blade Nzimande] said‚ that we can’t open up our facility because we are on a university property‚” he said.
“If they say we can open up the facility‚ we will do that and obviously we will follow all the necessary health and safety guidelines that we are supposed to adhere to. We have 40 twin rooms and six single rooms available. Of the 40 twin rooms‚ 20 have four beds and 20 have two beds. When it comes to gyms‚ we have two and there are two swimming pools. We have eight playing fields that we can use. However‚ if the minister opens up some codes like swimming‚ I am going to then lose a swimming pool.”
HPI director Jean Verster said the institute had the facilities to meet the requirements of a base camp. “We have the facilities but the university is closed at the moment because of the lockdown. We will be keen to help out but everything is going to depend on the directives from government and approval by the university’s top management.
“We have the sports village where the Spanish national team stayed when they won the World Cup in 2010. It is situated right next to the football fields and we also have the high-performance centre‚” Verster said.