Lightning danger shines light on other risks for players

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Macarthur FC hosted Newcastle Jets on Saturday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in a match that had nearly two hours of delays due to lightning in the area.

The game’s kick-off had been revised from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm due to extreme heat, but hot temperatures proved to be the least of the problems.

The game had not even reached the 15-minute mark before a forced 90-minute stoppage occurred.

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The players were sent out to finish the match, but just 10 minutes later, the teams were sent back into sheds. More lightning posing a safety risk much to the dismay of players, coaching staff, and spectators alike.

In spite of a significant spectator walkout after the second delay, the players came out of the tunnel yet again. The final whistle was eventually blown just before 10:00 pm.

Macarthur coach Mile Sterjovski explained the impacts of two delays on his players opining that extended breaks during a high-intensity football match could also cause issues.

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“It’s difficult but obviously the safety of the players is important, but it is hard for the players to cool down to warm up, to cool down to warm up and do it again – that also could be dangerous for them,” he said.

“After the second one I felt for the players, and I was worried about the players’ safety and getting injured. It’s not easy to cool down and warm up a few times.

“I think in the end obviously they [the officials] wanted the game to go ahead, we managed it as best we could.

“I just wanted to make sure that they didn’t use it as an excuse to perform poorly – that was the biggest thing for me.”

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Trent Buhagiar’s eighth-minute goal proved to be the winner for the Jets with coach Arthur Papas elaborating on the mental consequences of the extensive stoppages.

“Probably more from a mental position to be agile – the importance of mental agility and also ensuring that in those periods that players had the chance to probably decompress a little bit because of how long those breaks were, but also remaining focused enough to continue,” he said.

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“It probably resulted in a very up-and-down game.”

While it was a late trip home for Newcastle, the win at Campbelltown pushes them closer towards the top six only behind the sixth-placed Sydney FC on goal difference.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

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Timothy Gibson
I am a student currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism/ Bachelor of Laws while writing football match reports and feature articles.

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