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Nothing to do in Bermuda – but wait

PHC Zebras and North Village Rams are seen in action at PHC on November 5, the last Premier Division game to be played before the Covid-19 pandemic forced games to be called off the next day. It has now been two months since games were stopped, with no return date yet set (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Just what can be salvaged from the stalled football season is anyone’s guess, but teams are back in training in the hope that football can return in the coming weeks.

Shannon Burgess, the Bermuda Football Association’s competitions committee chairman, revealed on the weekend that the priority is to complete the league campaign, with the season possibly being extended into May in order to finish the two cup competitions, the Friendship Trophy and FA Cup.

However, much will depend on when the season, which was halted in early December, will resume as this weekend marks two months without football, resulting in a huge backlog of games.

“It’s just a wait-and-see right now,” said PHC coach Winston Trott Jr, whose team played in the last game before the stoppage — a 3-1 win over North Village in a teatime kickoff on December 5. That night, the decision was made by the BFA to call off the Sunday fixtures because of a spike in Covid-19 cases.

No football has been played since, with even the Corona League still waiting to play their first matches of the season. President Michael McGrath, however, hasn’t given up on playing some games in what will be a much shortened season.

“We haven't written it off but may look at shorter competitions or tournaments,” McGrath revealed yesterday.

“We will see how things develop and hopefully get some football going for the players and the spectators.”

The Corona League has two representatives in the first round of the FA Cup, with Footy Kings and Tuff Dogs advancing after winning preliminary round matches in October. The first round of the FA Cup should have been played in mid-January with the quarter-finals scheduled for the weekend of February 13 and 14.

It is a waiting game for the BFA, as well as the clubs, as it awaits clearance from the Department of Health to return to competitive play in stage four in the four-stage Return to Play plan recently announced by Ernest Peets, the sports minister.

Teams are in stage two at present, which allows them to train with a maximum of 25 persons.

“They are training,” Trott said of his players. “I think they [BFA] are going to do something; once we start opening up we will play football. We’re on our [training] limit of 25.

“I think if they do anything they are going to finish the league. If they get to the cup games afterwards, that’s a bonus.

“They will need to get the league sorted so that they know who is coming up and who is going down. I think that’s going to be their priority.”

PHC are third in the standings, level on points with second-placed Devonshire Cougars who, along with St George’s, had one game to play to complete the first half of their league schedule.

Larry Smith, the assistant coach of Somerset Trojans, who are in fifth place, three points behind PHC and Cougars, says his team is also waiting to see what happens next in the season.

“We are training in preparation for whatever is decided by the BFA,” Smith said. “If they want to begin tomorrow then at least we have been in training.

“We’re complying with the necessary protocols of the BFA and the health department. We’re getting ready for what I guess you could call preseason.

“Because the guys have been off, we have encouraged them to do some extra work, although you have to be careful about doing too much, too soon, with hamstring pulls and things of that nature.”

Smith added: “We’re doing small-sided games, just getting the guys used to the football again. The focus is on getting ready to play football, and whatever comes our way, we’ll just mix the thick with the thin.

“Come what may, we’re going to be ready.”

Smith admits the league title looks a tall order for the Trojans with Robin Hood holding an eight-point lead over them. “We might be just a little behind the eight-ball for winning the league, but we want to be in the first four,” he said.

“Unless Robin Hood stumble, which I doubt, as they are such a good team, realistically everybody else is going to be playing for second place.

“The top four would be a good season for Somerset.”

Smith, a former player for Devonshire Colts, admits he hasn’t seen anything quite like this, with the pandemic interrupting another season. “I didn’t see us having to go almost to the beginning of a new season,” he said of the two-month interruption.

“But it applies to all the teams who are trying to get back into shape like it’s preseason. I’ve seen a few guys from different teams doing some running, so I guess they are taking the initiative. That was impressive to me.”

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Published February 05, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 04, 2021 at 9:40 pm)

Nothing to do in Bermuda – but wait

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