I was on ball about Teko – Da Gama

2010-10-10 16:14

While he was still the Orlando Pirates coach, Owen da Gama took flak for raising concerns that Teko Modise’s incessant national team call-ups could lead to the player suffering fatigue and burnout.

Two years down the line, it looks like Da Gama might have been on to something.

After featuring in almost every game at club and national level for the past three seasons, and twice winning the Premier League Soccer (PSL) Footballer of the Year award, Modise is now experiencing loss of form.

He was dropped from his club’s last two games against Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows in the MTN8 ­tournament.

His position in the national team ­also became uncertain after he was benched for the last two international games against Ghana and Niger – but an injury to Steven Pienaar may lead to him starting against Sierra Leone today.

Though Modise’s slump in form started showing at last year’s Confederations Cup, Da Gama seems to have not been blindsided by this.

“When I raised this two years ago people thought I was just talking and just ignored it. There was no ­reaction,” Da Gama said.

His major concern was that Modise could have been left out of the Bafana team for games of lesser significance.

“Modise was called up for every international game and played in full, whether it was against Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi or Botswana.

“During the same period, he featured in all Pirates games in the league and cup competitions,” he said.

In the past three seasons, Modise played 72 league games for Pirates and 49 Bafana matches.

Da Gama believes the solution is for Modise to be rested at both club and national level.

“It starts at club level. Pirates are resting him and that is a good start.

“At national level, we should introduce him slowly. He should not ­feature in one or two games.”

Da Gama said Modise would get back to his best if he is given sufficient time off.

“The boy needs time to recover ­fully. We know what he is capable of, but at the ­moment he is clearly not at his best.”

As he did two years ago, leading to his verbal altercation with the then Bafana coach Carlos Parreira, Da Gama said there should be communication between coaches.

“The national coach has to understand what type of training goes on at club level and vice versa.”

Professor Mike Lambert, an expert at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, said it was no longer necessarily the number of games a player participates in that indicate the risk of fatigue and burnout.

“In the past, there were guidelines but they were not very accurate. Because players are different and they adapt differently, we now recommend that they should be monitored individually on a weekly basis.

“Rather than looking at the number of games, clubs should monitor the symptoms. If they show any signs of stress, they should then be looked at in more detail.”

Lambert said it also depended on the player’s position.

“Midfield players are physically more challenged than defenders and goalkeepers for instance,” he said.

He said that players needed enough rest between games or training.

“Fatigue is the result of doing too much training or playing too many games and not getting enough rest.”

The solution for a player suffering from burnout is, Lambert says, ­decreasing the training load, increasing recovery time, ensuring that nutritional intake is perfect and also developing an uninterrupted sleep pattern.

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