MARCH 4 — The sun showed no mercy as 22 players were sweating it out on the field at 4pm last Saturday.
The field was like a desert. I saw a player drop due to a hard tackle. It would have given him a really nasty bruise due to the rough playing surface.
The handful of fans either found refuge under trees or in their cars to escape the heat. The high temperatures made it impossible to enjoy a game of football.
But the 22 players soldiered on at Kuala Lumpur Hospital grounds.
The field will host two KL Football Association (KLFA) League matches this Saturday. KLCF FC will take on KL City in a Division 2 match at3pm while the Immigration Department play Sri Cempaka FC in a Division 1 match at 4.45pm.
However, there are two issues here — the lack of proper playing space and the heat.
● Where are the fields?
While the city team have been struggling in the M-League and several players charged for match-fixing, KLFA have sustained a well-organised league over the years.
Some 71 teams have signed up for the KLFA League this year — 10 teams in the KLFA Super League, 28 teams in Division 1 and 33 teams in Division 2.
The league has managed to attract teams from other states including Syarikat Air Melaka Bhd and Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas, Johor.
Sadly, the lack of playing fields in the city have forced KLFA to organise matches at the KL Hospital field.
The other venues in the city include Batu Cantonment field (Jalan Ipoh), Institute Pendidikan Ilmu Khas in Cheras, University Malaya and the National Sports Council field in Bukit Jalil.
Some matches are played at the Maybank field in Bangi while there are on-going efforts to get Pulapol to lease their field at Jalan Semarak.
Since there are not many fields in the heart of the city, it would be wise if KLFA start talking with the Education Ministry and the KL Education Department to allow teams to play in schools.
They can work out a win-win formula whereby school fields are only rented out during days which have no extra-curricular activities. In return, KLFA could work with a private entity to set up floodlights where the school field can also be used in the late evenings and at night.
This would encourage students to conduct sporting activities later in the evenings and even at night, a good way to escape the unbearable heat during the day.
It would also create extra revenue for the school to upgrade its facilities.
● It’s getting hot in here
The Malaysian Meteorological Department said temperatures are set to rise to a high of 34°C as rain is only expected to fall during the middle of the month.
The prolonged hot and dry spell in the country, coupled with unhealthy air quality especially in Port Klang, Putrajaya and Nilai spell trouble to those playing outdoors.
Even Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam, had during an event in Ipoh over the weekend, advised members of the public to wear surgical masks, remain indoors and drink plenty of water.
Yet, schools continue with their sports activities ahead of the annual Sports Day while the FA of Malaysia and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation continue to organise matches in the afternoons and early evenings.
The severe heat would certainly take a toll on the players and affect play but there seems to be no precautionary measures taken as players are left exposed to such extreme weather conditions.
Do we need to see an athlete fall to the ground to only then take action?
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.