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Local clubs urged to use GPS heart monitoring vests

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THABANG REGOENG

Amid sequential myocardial infarction that claimed the lives of Township Rollers star Gofaone Tiro and Santa Green defender, Leatile Setabosigo, local clubs have been urged to make use of GPS heart monitoring training vests.

The device gives varied statistics in speed, acceleration, deceleration, dynamic stress load and monitors performance of an athlete’s performance data. The vest holds a small viper pod, worn on a player’s back in a pouch supplied by the tight fitting vest.

In an interview with Gazette Sport, Sports Medicine Professor at the University of Botswana (UB) Professor Ignatius Onyewadume urged all local clubs to use the device regularly.

“We at (UB) are already familiar with the GPS heart monitoring device, so our athletes put on these vest during exercises with the help of our fitness trainers. The fitness staff then use the live stats to monitor performance, allowing them to compile reports and make informed decisions on athletes performance. Our labs have the same GPS vests that we usually see in training sessions of English teams because they are really not expensive,” Onyewadume told this reporter.

The renowned sports medicine lecturer also called for regular screening of players across local clubs which is mandatory across professional leagues.

“What Botswana football experienced this past few days is concerning, so I would urge clubs to screen their athletes before they are even registered to play. In countries where technology is well advanced this is taken seriously in fact Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) can punish the Botswana Football Association (BFA) if such practices are not enforced,” he added.

The device has become a common sight on training grounds of clubs like Kaizer Chiefs and Manchester City, Arsenal and Barcelona. With tech companies in Statsports, GP-sports and Catapult partnering with international clubs, Rollers remain the only local club to have access to the device.

This publication previously reported a story last year September where images surfaced of Popa first team stars in Field Wiz training vests in pre-season training.

According to sources the club bought the GPS heart monitoring units while on pre- season friendlies with South African clubs. However Tiro’s passing is said to have rather been tragic as he showed no signs of cardiac problems since the beginning of the season.

This publication caught up with Rollers fitness trainer China Mokaila who explained how the club value the heart monitoring device despite the loss of their player.

“The club tries by all means to know the health status of our players so we make use of the GPS training vests in pre-season, the Christmas break and towards the end of the season. We wish it could be possible to use them in every training session but we usually have poor internet connections at our training grounds,” Mokaila stated.

Meanwhile, the use of vipers has not yet been granted access for use on match days under FIFA rules. For their part BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane stated the association is in support of the heart monitoring device if there are no health risks associated with it.

“As an organization the health issues of our players are prioritized so we are in support of the technological devices which help improve the state and health players across all clubs. At the end of the day it all comes down to clubs taking club licensing so that health aspects well taken off,” he said.

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