The decision on Sunday (27 June 2021) by State President Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa to move the country to Alert Level 4 restrictions has been welcome by many, including the Sasol League teams.
Godfrey Tenoff, Head Coach of Kovsies FC in the Sasol League Free State Province, says they stand by the move to halt the league matches as the country is fighting against the invisible and deadly enemy that is the Corona Virus.
Kovsies FC currently leads Stream A at the halfway mark of the competition – they are on 21 points, three ahead of second placed Central University of FS (CUT).
But they have even an even bigger challenge in Stream B where Ixias is top of the table, with the same number of points.
Both sides have not lost in seven outings – and only one will get to represent the Province at the Sasol League National Championship at the end of the season.
SAFA Media spoke to Tenoff after the announcement that the league will be suspended for a while.
How are you feeling that the league has to be suspended when your team is on a high?
It is very nice to that the team is performing well in the first round, but we also understand that there is a pandemic and we look at what’s more important – that all the girls are healthy and will get an opportunity to play again in the second round. So, we stand with the (State) President, we stand with Sasol League and we stand with SAFA in suspending the league for now and keeping everybody healthy and safe. The girls were really focused and I hope they come back with the same focus and same mental attitude that they had before, and also with the same zeal and excitement about playing together as a team in the second round. Yes, in some ways I am a little bit disappointed and would have liked to see where we would have been by this stage but I am also understanding of the situation and want to keep all my girls healthy and happy and be able to perform to the best of their ability.
What will the team do in the meantime while waiting to go back to action?
We are asking the girls to do some isolation training, training in the gym, and doing a lot of social distancing. We are also going over a few things as a team – like individual meetings where I discuss with players their roles, how they can be better, what sort of players they want to become. And we develop plans for them within our training regime to get them to be the players they want to see on the field, not just the players that the technical team wants to see, and that is very important to us – keep the players engaged, especially tactically because they are not active on the field, so work more on video analysis.
Will this not drop the momentum?
You can always drop momentum even when you are playing well, you can have that one-day when you have an off day. The most important thing is to understand the athletes and understand the players, they also have to understand where they are as a team, they have to understand the significance of the games they will be playing in the second round, and I think that mindset keeps them focused. The most important thing for momentum is that everybody understands where we are and where we are trying to push towards – and that’s how you get momentum. Every team (in the Sasol League) is facing the same challenge, and we have to be the ones to rise above it, and the team that rises above it the fastest will be the leader at the end.
Halfway mark of the league, how do you see your chances of making the national playoffs at the end of the season?
I see us with a 50/50 chance of making the national playoffs at the end of the season – a lot of things can go wrong in football. We are still seven games away from the playoff match here in the Free State Province and we are taking nothing for granted. I think everything that we have done in the first round has put us into a good position, and we have to continue doing those things and have to improve on other things. Everybody needs to understand that the season is not over until the final whistle here in the Free State, and when it’s over here, we have to re-gear ourselves up for the national playoffs, so we would like to go there (national play-offs) because we have set ourselves a goal that we need to be there, but we know we have to make sure that we take care of the steps that we have to take care of here in the Free State provincial league first. We have a lot of tough teams in our groups and we don’t take anybody for granted – we train our hardest and play our hardest all the time and we have to keep on doing that.
What message to all involved in the Sasol League regarding this pandemic and safety?
The Sasol League has done a phenomenal job in giving us an opportunity and a stage to be able to develop these young ladies, to be able to help them to become the kind of players we want them to become for our local league and international competition. It is important that we support Sasol and SAFA, it is important that we support these young ladies, and make sure they remain mentally focused and mentally stimulated during this time of the pandemic. Young ladies go through depression, anxiety and have all sorts of mental issues and mental blocks because they are used to being out there on the field expressing themselves, so the most important thing for me is that we make sure that we take care of them, we make sure that we stay engaged with them as technical staff and make sure that we allow them to express themselves in different ways and different formats and also make sure that we take care of much more than just the football side of what they do – that we take care of the individual, and make sure they are doing well with their families, their academics (those still studying). We miss playing the game, but we miss you more. Stay healthy, stay safe, wear your mask, sanitize and we will see you in the second round.