Sport community must unite

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Moorosi Tsiane

PREMIER Moeketsi Majoro on Sunday announced that the country will be moving from Covid-19 alert level orange to purple starting on Monday.

The announcement brought serious relief for the business community which can now operate albeit under strict conditions.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for the sporting fraternity with activities remaining suspended except for the senior national soccer team, Likuena, which is preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Likuena got a green light to start its preparations after the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) tabled its proposal to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) a fortnight ago.

LeFA had to come up with a convincing strategy on how it would handle the preparations to avoid spreading Covid-19 among the camping team. The team is in a month-long camp.

However, the rest of the sporting fraternity must continue waiting.

Even more worrying is that in Majoro’s Sunday speech, he acknowledged that with the winter season fast approaching, chances are that another wave of Covid-19 infections is on the horizon.

This means if sports are prohibited now when the second wave is receding, according to statistics; then they will only be allowed for a short period if at all the suspension is lifted. This, because the virus seems ton spread rapidly during the winter season.

When sports were suspended in January this year, the football season had just started with only four out of 30 matches played for each team in the Vodacom Premier League.

Other sporting codes had started their preparations to start their leagues. Basketball play-offs were yet to be completed after being halted in the semi-finals.

Other athletes are yearning for an opportunity to start their preparations for Olympic qualifiers. The Olympics will be held in July and August this year and there is so little time for them to prepare. Worse still, the qualifiers themselves may not be held.

While the government’s decisions are informed by the need to be responsible and that to protect the citizens, the trend shows that there is either lack of proper engagement between the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSCE) and the sporting fraternity. Even more worrying, the case could be that of utter ignorance among the sports administrators. They have done so little to compel the government that they need to be allowed to resume sporting activities.

There are several factors that are clearly not being considered by the powers that be may not be considering in making decisions about continued suspension of sports. Among these is that premier league teams are now compelled to pay salaries for more than 30 players and staff when they are not getting income.

I think it is time for the sporting community as a whole to step up and present their concerns to the government and to NACOSEC in the same manner that LeFA did.

True; Covid-19 is a huge threat, an existential one for that matter. But what good would it be if we handle Covid-19 as if there is no life beyond the pandemic? Leaders must learn that sports have the potential to make a positive impact on any country’s economy. If sports administrators do not sell this dream to the leaders, then they have themselves to blame for the “after thought” treatment that they continue getting.

Thousands of unemployed youths could do something meaningful with their lives if only they are taught that sports are not a pastime but have hundreds of careers.

The ball is in the court of sports administrators. They must stop working in silos. They must collaborate for the good of the sector as a whole and betterment of the country.

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