Sunday, October 25, 2020

Is BPL refusing to embrace the use of GPS vests?

By Anita Rannoba

As the advancement of technology continues to gain traction in all areas of life, sports and football in particular has not been left behind.

For close to eight years now, the best football teams in the world have taken to sports science, with the cutting edge technology of GPS training vests at the heart of it.

The vest function is to collect all of the player’s performance data individually, basic things like distance covered and running speed also mere in-depth metrics such as balance and stress loads, fitness and well-being. The technology in the vest is also used to assess whether players are at risk of exasperating a fitness issue.

Even FIFA, who were reluctant have finally embraced GPS training vests and by the World Cup in Russia last year, it was being used by teams.

Unfortunately for Botswana, there still seems to be resistance or scepticism to embrace the new technology in sports, with the Botswana Premier League (BPL) opposed to its use in official matches.

To follow on this latest fad, following the demise of star player Gofaone Tiro during training, Rollers acquired the technology in order to closely monitor their players both at training and during games.

However, according to Rollers Public Relations Officer Bafana Pheto, the BPL has refused to them a permission to use the cutting edge GPS vests technology during matches.

“Our player’s performance means so much more as their well being but it came as a shock to us when Botswana Premier League was against us from using the training vest during official games as they help us with monitoring physical being and health wellness of our players but only approved of them during training,” Pheto said.

The Rollers PRO said the refusal by BPL to allow them to use the vests during training only and not in official matches does not help much as players invest much more effort and intensity as compared to training.

He indicated that despite it being expensive to acquire the technology, Rollers found it fit to buy it to help their players as well as to keep abreast with the new technology.

“We spent over P100 000.00 to buy these vests and to be denied to use them is another thing how are we to improve our stands of football if we cannot advance with what is being used globally,” Pheto said.

Reached for comment, BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo ‘Styles’ Ntshinogang clarified that while teams are allowed to use any equipment they want during training, the same cannot be accepted during official games.

“Whether teams train in swimming pools, using bicycles or even the GPS vest it is none of our business. We do not monitor how teams train. Our concern is in the actual field and we judge them on official games as they have to be in accord with others,” said Ntshinogang.

The BPL CEO however said if teams can afford to buy the GPS vests to use them in training, they are at liberty to do as such as they are beneficial and the BPL will never stop them.

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