| REVEALED | PSL’s return to training guidelines: Individual water bottles and sanitised balls

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Cape Town City's training ground facilities at Hartleyvale Stadium being deep sanitised.

Cape Town City’s training ground facilities at Hartleyvale Stadium being deep sanitised.

  • The PSL’s directive on a return to training outlines all the strict safety guidelines that need to be adhered to.
  • It gives a detailed breakdown of measures that teams/players/staff will be subjected to during training ahead of the restart of matches.
  • Even though teams are expected to resume training as soon as 22 June, the PSL is yet to announce a date for the resumption of competitive matches.

All football-related activities in South Africa ground to a halt on 15 March due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, this means 95 days have passed since any live Premier Soccer League (PSL) action.

The South African Football Association (SAFA), alongside the PSL, have set out to see the safe return of local soccer.

While Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa gave the green light for non-contact and contact sport to resume training under Level 3 lockdown restrictions on 1 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday announced the further easing of Level 3 rules.

Sport24 had previously revealed the measures that were to be put in place in order for the PSL to make a return, but now those safety measures can be revealed in greater detail from the official PSL document titled: NSL Directive on Return to Training. 

These are some of the key takeaways from the document. 

Health and safety directive on return to training guidelines:

Prior to return to training

  • Teams and all participants will, prior to commencing training, provide proof of Covid-19 testing: one test at least 2-7 days prior to the resumption of training;
  • All persons (including players and staff) must have done pre-training medicals prior to resuming training;
  • Any person/s excluded by the screening process or who tests positive (Covid-19 test) will not be permitted to resume training;
  • If screening results raise a concern, but the Covid-19 test is negative, the individual will not be permitted to train and will undergo Covid-19 testing 72 hours later;
  • All individuals must receive the flu vaccination prior to resuming training.

Logistics and equipment

  • All participants must wear masks (except for players when they are playing or training) and should shower at home;
  • Personal/team towels dedicated to each participant must be washed at home each day;
  • Each player must also receive his own water bottle – this should also be washed and cleaned by them;
  • All gym equipment and change rooms must be thoroughly cleaned with appropriate cleansers/disinfectants prior to training and after training;
  • Hand sanitiser must be available at the training venue (entrance/exits, fieldside) and must be at least 70% alcohol-based;
  • Balls should be washed with soap and water/appropriate sanitiser prior to and after training sessions;
  • All staff involved with cleaning must wear masks and gloves at all times;
  • There must be availability for appropriate personal peotective Equipment which will have to be used when treating a “Person Under Investigation”;
  • Ice baths are prohibited except at players’ homes or accommodation;
  • Medical equipment must be used with care and attention to avoid the risk of cross-contamination of individuals.

Training day protocols

– Training Venue Compliance

At each training venue the following must be attended to and ensured:

  • Only the persons who are necessary for training purposes on the day in question will be permitted to be present at the training venue;
  • A sufficient number of posters must be clearly displayed at regular intervals in areas that will be used;
  • Commonly used guard rails, turnstiles, door handles, change rooms must be regularly cleaned – preferably with soap and water/bleach disinfectant/70% alcohol cleaning material – and must be dried appropriately; 

  • Deep sanitising of the facilities must be done prior to the resumption of training;
  • Daily cleaning must be done prior to the arrival of players and/or staff each training day;
  • Hand sanitisers must be available at stadium entrances, at tunnels (before the pitch), as well as in change rooms;
  • Cleaning of guard rails, turnstiles, door handles and change rooms must take place following the same cleaning protocols, post-training, immediately after players and staff have left; 

  • Designated medical rooms must be ventilated, must have non-contact soap dispensers and water, or 70% alcohol hand sanitiser; 

  • All staff who are in any way involved in training must follow the requisite personal cleaning protocols applicable in respect of Covid-19 on a regular basis;

  • Disposable gloves must be available for all cleaning staff, security and groundsmen;
  • A complete list of staff involved must be kept (a contact list with name, address and telephone number). Any persons “red-flagged” for any reason before, at, or after a match must be reported to the Member Club and the League;
  • The League only requires the capacity in which the person was working;
  • There must be a clearly identified room for isolation in the event it is necessary to deal with a person under investigation for Covid-19.

Team Compliance

– Member Clubs participating in training must fully comply with this directive 

  • Each club’s health officer is responsible for, and must, alert the League CMO should there be any “red-flagged” players/staff, players under investigation or diagnosed with Covid-19;
  • Personal information does not have to be shared, but the club name and the individual’s designation at the Member Club must be; 

  • All team rooms must be well ventilated and must be regularly cleaned with appropriate disinfectants prior to the arrival of the players; 

  • All change rooms and entrances must display reinforcing information for players and staff – this should be done to remind people regarding physical distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene – these are available on the DOH and NICD websites; 

  • Players must have their own dedicated water bottles which they must always keep with their own kit, and there is to be no sharing of bottles;
  • All persons must wear a mask in common areas (a three-ply surgical mask will suffice). Each mask must be kept safely and reused by each player, but if availability allows, one mask can be worn for each training session. Only players will be permitted not to wear masks when – and only when – training;
  • Member clubs and other medical staff must ensure they wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as well between each player contact;
  • The physiotherapist/massage therapist must use each player’s own towel on beds (or disposable plastic covers), ensuring these beds are thoroughly cleaned with appropriate bleach disinfectant before each player is treated;
  • A contact list of ALL individuals who attend training must be kept for safekeeping and must be made available to the relevant authorities upon request – this must include their name, telephone number, and address;

  • This must be held for at least six months.

Field-Based Compliance

  • All medical response staff (including team doctors and physiotherapists) must wear masks and gloves at all times;
  • It is the responsibility of all (and in particular each player) to ensure that players drink from their own water bottles at all times;
  • Benches/chairs must also be cleaned, following the same cleaning protocols as applicable to change rooms;
  • All training balls will be cleaned with sanitiser prior to and after training;
  • Players must be educated to not spit and blow their noses on the field/walkways.

It has to be pointed out that the above-mentioned protocols are based on a return to training, but with the PSL yet to finalise and approve the safety guidelines for a return to matches.

PSL teams have also undergone testing on 17 and 18 June, with results expected within 48-72 hours.

Stellenbosch FC underwent testing at their Stellenbosch Academy of Sport training base, with fellow Cape side Cape Town City doing the same at the Netcare N1 City Hospital.

Teams will resume training once all players and members of staff have been given the all clear after the testing period, with a date expected as soon as Friday, 19 June.

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