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Local football scrambles to get the ball rolling

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The Safa directive which was issued last week and instructed all amateur associations to resume competitive games has immediately put the local football association under pressure to complete the 2019/20 football season.

THE SOL Plaatje Local Football Association (LFA) has notified its affiliate clubs to prepare for the re-opening of competitive games within a fortnight’s time in response to a directive from the SA Football Association to start playing official matches on March 1.

LFA chairperson Seabata Makhele said they have issued notices to about 80 LFA affiliated clubs in the various age leagues to make arrangements to partake in local fixtures as of the beginning of next month.

Makhele mentioned that the Safa directive which was issued last week and instructed all amateur associations to resume competitive games has immediately put them under pressure to complete the 2019/20 football season.

The last season was interrupted by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic which severely affected especially the promotional league tier which serves as a feeder to the Premier League managed by the LFA. The Premier League in turn feeds the sponsored SAB Regional league.

Because of the pandemic the LFA could not complete the scheduled promotional league games. This affected the LFA ranking system to furnish legitimate winners from the bottom rung leagues.

The latest directive from Safa also recommended the observance of strict Covid-19 protocols at all games. This instruction, coupled with the pressure to complete last year’s season, has left the LFA with barely enough time to complete the abandoned season within less than two weeks.

“Now we will just barely be able to finish the (abandoned) season. We anticipate that we will be able to deliver the teams (from the Premier League) in time to take part in the regional play-offs. At the play-offs they will battle it out for a place in the SAB League. All this must happen before the end of May,” Makhele said.

Adding to the pressure on the LFA was the bio-safety advisory form Safa which stipulated that all games must henceforth be played in enclosed, bio-safe venues. The LFA currently has only three venues which comply with Safa’s bio-safety protocols namely the Galeshewe artificial turf, the West End municipal grounds and the badly vandalised Kutloanong Stadium behind the Northern Cape Legislature.

With regards the Kutloanong Stadium the LFA will conclude a sharing agreement with the current lessors of the stadium. They have also made a deal for the use of the West End grounds, Makhele said.