5. 2 p.m. kick-offs should be scrapped.
The most damning indictment of the 2 p.m. kick-off time comes from the coaches themselves, especially in the pre-game huddle. “We have the 2 p.m. game. Let’s take it easy in the first half. Hit the long ball and let the opponent tire themselves out chasing the ball. Let’s not waste energy and cramp up in this heat!”
Walking under the early afternoon sun, where temperatures have reached a scorching 37 degrees on occasion, is torture enough. Expecting players to play competitive Division One football in the summer heat at two in the afternoon is asking for disaster. “A heat stroke waiting to happen” is how one first division coach put it.
In the recently-concluded 2012 Oceania Football Confederation Nations Cup held in the Solomon Islands, a two-minute water break was afforded the players at the midway point of every half, due to heat and humidity. UFL football has not come to that point yet, although if we are to persist with these kick-off times, it is not unimaginable that it may yet be introduced here.
Players and coaches don’t like playing football at 2 p.m. Fans won’t come in droves to the venues in the 2 p.m. searing heat to watch the games live. Photographers and ground staff have been known to hide under the shade. No one likes it. The level of football certainly dips in these scorching conditions; chances come few and far between, quality of play is often below par.
Instead of having early afternoon kick-offs, perhaps it is perhaps a good idea to hold games in late afternoons to early evenings. Or, if TV schedules do not permit this, weekday night games seem a better and safer alternative.
As the last televised games of the season last June 26 showed, crowds will flock to the games after work. The level of football goes up a notch, just as the temperatures go down. Strikers strike better, defenders defend better and the midfielders do their midfielding better. Would it be a stretch to hope that referees referee better?
I am sure the ref hopes that with cooler temperatures, perhaps he need not reach for those yellow and red pieces of paper in his pocket that often as well.
Ryan Fenix is InterAKTV’s resident football analyst. His football column Rampaging Fullback appears exclusively on the site. He runs the football blog The Prawn Sandwich Brigade and covers football for AKTV on IBC. For more football discussion, follow him on Twitter.
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