Sparky’s Column

Hot Hot Heat

There is a cliche in England that football is a "funny old game" and the old adage has been proved once again. Coach Cosmin says goodbye to the champions and reappears for Al Ahli, and Quique Flores says goodbye to Al Ahli and reappears at Al Ain. The interim was of course a brief appearence by Fossati in the Garden City but overall it's almost a straight swap. It certainly makes it interesting with a title race many consider to be between Al Ain and Al Ahli. The match on the 24th November is now the one everyone will have their eyes on; and though it's a bit early to be a title decider it will be a massive game.

The heat is beginning to die down in the UAE but the humidity remains high and in footballing terms that is the most difficult to perform in. The average player will start to suffer once the humidity goes above 50%. The humidity rather than the heat makes it difficult to maintain optimum internal temperature, a process known as thermoregulation. In simple terms the cooling effect of sweating and evaporation grinds to a halt. That is why when it's humid you think you are sweating more when in fact it is just not evaporating. The effect can be muscle cramps, headaches and nausea which are all detrimental to performance. The way teams prepare for the conditions stretches to more than just a few bottles of water strewn around the pitch. I will be speaking to some of the support staff in the coming weeks to get an insight into the strategies of coping with the weather conditions in the UAE.

The new TV contract means that some matches will disappear behind a pay wall. The effect of this is two-fold, it will raise attendances at the matches and it provides a reliable number of viewers who are watching. The other development is the English commentary will now feature heavily for expat fans. English commentary opens up a whole new world as you are guided through the individuals that count bringing the game to life.
The commentary team for this season are as follows:

Brian Murgatroyd: A Leeds United fan from the UK who, when it comes to sports media, has been there and done it. He has worked for Sky Sports, ICC and a host of organisations in the UAE. He is a man better researched than a rocket scientist with a delivery that's both calm and measured.

Joe Morrison: You will remember as the host of the EPL on ART a few years ago. A lot of the shows were spent with a raised eyebrow at the antics of panellist John Burridge. He is a native of the UK and a former presenter on Newcastle FC TV.

...And lastly, well, it's me. My delivery is one of enthusiasm as I still can't quite believe I am getting paid to watch football. I love a quirky fact about the teams and often myself and Brian trade a bit of trivia pre-match. I know that sounds a bit 'football geek', and that's probably because it is.

The one thing you will get from all 3 of us is a real enthusiasm at the chance to bring the UAE game to a whole new audience.