Elation, caution as SPL clubs get nod for full training from today
League could restart this month, as full-team practice resumes from today
There was a sense of both excitement and caution among coaches and players, as Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs were told full-team training can resume from today, following two months of five-a-side sessions.
The multi-ministry taskforce gave the Football Association of Singapore the go-ahead for full-team practice yesterday, in a move that could pave the way for the resumption of the SPL season at the end of this month.
Hougang United coach Clement Teo expressed delight with the news, after admitting his players and coaches had found restricted training a tad tedious.
Teo told The New Paper: "We have been looking forward to this as training apart, in smaller groups, means less interaction and that can be mundane."
Tanjong Pagar United coach Hairi Su'ap added: "With the restrictions in place for the last 10 weeks, there were only so many innovative ways we can conduct drills and it has been very difficult on my technical team.
"This news has created excitement, a buzz among my players and coaches. We are looking forward to full-team training.
"It would also mean the return of goalkeepers, no more shooting at mannequins."
The SPL campaign kicked off on Feb 29 before it was suspended on March 24 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The eight local-based clubs returned to training on June 20, albeit in groups of five and with no contact allowed.
Physical contact will still have to be kept to a minimal from today, unless it's a natural process of the training session or drill and is transient in nature.
Hence, practising of heading by picking up the ball and throwing should be discouraged.
Regular breaks will also be provided for hydration and hand sanitisation. Changing rooms and gyms will stay closed and the sharing of personal equipment is not allowed.
The past 10 weeks have been a long anxious wait for many players and coaches who were concerned that the season could be scrapped altogether.
"One possible repercussion of the season being canned is that players will not get to prove their worth and that could have bearing on whether they can go on to secure playing contracts for next season," said Teo.
"So naturally, the players were worried. Today's news comes as a huge relief."
It was a point Hairi also made, but Tampines Rovers coach Gavin Lee felt there were too many unknowns to be looking too far ahead.
"We are definitely pleased to be given the green light to conduct full-team training but, at the same time, we are very cautious as well," Lee said.
STIPE'S BIRTHDAY GIFT
The FAS also revealed that it is working with relevant authorities to restart the SPL season this month, which was music to the ears of Hougang striker Stipe Plazibat, who turned 31 yesterday.
The Croat, who is the SPL's leading scorer with five goals, said: "With good safety management measures in place, I am sure that we can safely resume the league soon as well."
While Tanjong Pagar striker Luiz Junior is also ecstatic that full-team training is back, the 30-year-old has to wait a little longer before returning to action with his teammates, due to niggling injuries.
Said the Brazilian, who fractured a shin bone in March: "I'm working my way back to full fitness, I've been running, exercising but no ball work yet."
Brunei DPMM, the only overseas-based side in the nine-team SPL, have been following protocols in their country, and the FAS is still in the midst of working out how the defending champions can continue their participation this season.