On Tuesday, 23 February FIFA announced the draw date for the 2016 Rio Olympics (Thursday, 14 April 2016 at the Maracana Stadium) for matches involving women and men’s games.

On Tuesday, 23 February FIFA announced the draw date for the 2016 Rio Olympics (Thursday, 14 April 2016 at the Maracana Stadium) for matches involving women and men’s games.

The Olympic Games will run from 3 – 20 August.

SAFA Media spoke to Pauw about preparations for the Rio Olympics:

SAFA Media: Are you not worried that training almost every week between now and August could cause fatigue to the players?

Vera Pauw: That is why they go home on weekends, where they get a chance to do recovery training. But they have a full rest on Sunday, which is very essential to the training programme we are on. You must rest at least one day in a week. But also if you don’t see your family or you are not within your social environment; you tend to get fatigue. The key is that we build up slowly especially football conditioning, because if we don’t, come May or June the levels will drop. If you build it up slowly, then you will reach good levels by August. But if we overload them now, they will never get to the peak, so the art is to keep them fresh for the next training session. It also depends on the age of the players, or whether they have just returned from injury or if they are used to high intensity training. For example, players like Noko Matlou, Janine van Wyk, Amanda Dlamini and Mpumi Nyandeni, are used to high level of training and for longer periods.

So what are you working on this week?

As I said, we have to keep it fresh every time so they players also look forward to training and being in camp. This week is about how individuals can get out of a tight situation while under pressure. So we work on that as a group and also as individuals – for example how to buy time by dummying your opponent or play the ball as quickly as possible with the help of a teammate nearby. They are really enjoying it and you can see the way they play it’s all coming together.

Last week the players were not in camp, does that not affect the fitness levels?

While the players were not in camp last week, they continued with individual programmes to maintain their level of fitness. Some played with boys in clubs like Ajax Cape Town and Platinum Stars, while others were in Castle League clubs. It’s good to have that kind of attitude. You need to find the right level because the boys are quicker and stronger so it helps a lot. For the ones who could not play with boys, we have created individual programmes so that when they come back we continue from there and that we don’t have to start afresh.

Injuries – do they not bother or worry you?

Of course, it’s a worry but that is why we make sure the players start the next session fresh. The risk of injury is always there in football but I always say some injuries can be avoided.

Talking about injuries, you have a player like Rhoda Mulaudzi that you would have loved have in camp, but she is out injured. What is the latest?

Unfortunately after the Equatorial Guinea game she did not build up for her next club game and she ruptured her quad muscles. She hasn’t recovered and today (Wednesday, 24 February) she went for an operation. Hopefully she will recover on time to fight for her place in the squad because a fit Rhoda can give us many options in attack, so we will see how far she gets.

So like you said last time, she still stands a chance to be back in the squad?

Well the same applies to all other players, not just Rhoda. As soon as we have a better player than the one that is currently in camp, they stand a good chance. But they have to be exceptional because the players in camp have made a lot of sacrifice by quitting their jobs, taken unpaid leave, suspended their studies, so a change will not be done lightly. But if a player steps up and shows us what we don’t have in camp, it is our duty to give that player a chance.