In between training at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, the South African Senior Women’s National Team made time to go to the Doornfontein campus of the University of Johannesburg for the tests.
SAFA Media: How is camp going?
Vera Pauw: Camp is going very well. We are now into our fourth week of the programme in the New Year. We are taking it slowly now because if we go too fast the curve of improvement on fitness will go down in May/June whereas we want to take it to higher heights and reach our peak in August when the tournament starts.
SAFA Media: Camp takes a break on weekends, how crucial is that?
Vera Pauw: Breaks are very important because the players need to stay fresh, if you overload them then the fitness levels go down. If you don’t have your full concentration on an activity then you better not do it because you will not get anything out of it. The players go home on weekends to see their families, but most importantly to rest. By resting we don’t mean just sitting and doing nothing – so here’s how we have structured the break:
1. Friday afternoon they go home
2. Saturday they do the recovery training, they know the exercises they have to do. I know many will ask if they really do it, but I can confidently say yes because we are able to see when they come back
3. On Sunday they rest completely
4. On Monday they are back in camp
SAFA Media: This week eye tests were conducted on players. Why was that?
Vera Pauw: We were doing this from a football perspective, meaning we tested the eyesight as to how they use it on the field - how they see contrast; what their reaction time is to a situation on the field based on what they see; how they see depth – meaning can they see the ball coming quickly towards them, or can they react quicker when the opponent is getting close? Hopefully the tests will help us to create a training programme to get the peripheral vision a bit wider. We will develop the programme together with the University of Johannesburg. We are very curious about the results and if there is nothing to fix then we know that they are no problems in that regard.
SAFA Media: So these tests are crucial?
Vera Pauw: We have chosen to do this because usually scientists use teams for them (scientists) to get better in their approach, but not in this case. This time they focus on what the coach can do with the results. What they want to find out is how their science can help the performance of the individual based on what the coaches can do once they have the results.
SAFA Media: Such a test also helped you during your playing days, so it is nothing new?
Vera Pauw: I have done a sports test which was basic and not as advanced as this one, but it confirmed that I did not see depth well enough so I got contact lenses. This helped me instantly to see depth better. I was then able to deliver long passes with some accuracy, something I could not do before. So the feeling that I was able to improve on something after the tests took my game to another level.