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Players must cope with heat, says Burgess

Hot and humid: referee Swainson had to take unscheduled water breaks during Monday's Dudley Eve Trophy match between Village and Cougars

The late summer heat is taking its toll on the island’s footballers who were exposed to brutal conditions during last weekend’s Charity Cup and Monday’s Dudley Eve Trophy group matches at Bernard Park and Goose Gosling Field.

Hot and humid temperatures pushed the mercury soaring during the Dudley Eve Trophy match between North Village and Devonshire Cougars, forcing referee Garic Swainson to take an unscheduled water break to allow the players to cool down. The sweltering heat became unbearable for Xyon Outerbridge-Smith, the Cougars goalkeeper, who was treated for heat exhaustion before being substituted on the hour mark.

It is also understood that players from PHC Zebras and Boulevard complained about the heat in the second match of the Dudley Eve Trophy double-header.

To safeguard players from dehydration and heat exhaustion in Saturday’s Dudley Eve Trophy matches at Bernard Park, where the temperatures are again expected to be in the mid-80s and the humidity around 75 per cent, scheduled water breaks may be implemented.

“We had a long conversation about the heat,” said Shannon Burgess, the Bermuda Football Association League and Cup Competitions Committee chairman. “But it’s part and parcel of football, really, and when we play internationally perhaps we will be playing in the same heat.

“It’s going to be an adjustment for the players and the coaching staff and we’re going to try and give some instructions to the officials as to whether we have to implement water breaks.”

Burgess, the former Devonshire Colts and Bermuda defender, applauded referee Swainson for acting in the best interests of the players during the previous round of Dudley Eve Trophy matches.

“The referees are encouraged to do what they deem to be in the best interests of the players,” Burgess said.

Asked why the matches were not being held in the evening when the conditions are cooler, Burgess replied: “We struggle with venues and a lack of night fields, so we have to make do with what we have now.

“What we tried to do with the Dudley Eve was play the matches at neutral fields. North Village aren’t involved this weekend so this was the only round we could have games at Bernard Park.”

This weekend’s Dudley Eve Trophy matches between Robin Hood and Cougars, and Dandy Town against Boulevard, had been scheduled for 3pm and 5pm but have been brought forward to avoid conflicting with another event taking place at the nearby WER Joell Tennis Stadium. The matches will now start at 1pm and 3pm.

“The games were brought forward because of the congestion around Bernard Park from the Gombey Festival,” Burgess said. “We did the schedule months ago. When we were made aware of the conflict it was either move the venue or change the time. It was much easier to change the time.”