CAPE TOWN – Professional sports teams have recently got the go-ahead to resume non-contact training, however, a return for amateur and community sports remains to be seen.
President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Cape Town Bennett Bailey said Covid-19 came at a time when all plans were formulated to get the 2020 local football season underway.
When the president announced the national lockdown, Bailey and his administrative team did not hesitate to stop play with the initial plan for a 30-day lockdown period.
“We thought that if the virus could be contained, then football would be back as early as May. This would have meant the least disruption of the leagues,” said Bailey.
“Tournaments could not take place and these tournaments served both as a fundraiser and a mobiliser for clubs. The cancellations meant less income and a break in the mobilisation process.
“Some clubs did not open at all and due to the inactiveness of the clubs, sponsorship opportunities were lost,” he said.
Bailey, who is also a member of the National Executive Committee of SAFA, said they have been busy preparing for the return to the pitch and have started an online coaching programme which is headed by Boebie Solomons; hygiene and fitness programmes.
“Player registration usually opens in November each year and the rush is from March and May with closure in June. The lockdown started in March and we in June and it seems there is no end in sight,” said Bailey.
“Therefore all clubs will suffer in terms of membership and funds. Football is played in the main working class areas and these areas are the hotspots of the virus.
“Because we are part of SAFA National, our competition structure is influenced through national thinking. And, although our position is to declare the 3rd Division null and void, SAFA National wants to conclude it as it has a ripple effect on the other leagues,” he said.
Bailey added that despite there being no end in sight for the national lockdown and for when things return back to normal, that players and coaches should use this time to move beyond their comfort zones.
Previously all communication and meetings were done in person but looking ahead, a more virtual and digital approach will be employed.
“The world has changed and so must the administrators and coaches. Administrators can use this downtime to upgrade their databases and watch webinars to upskill themselves.
“This is also a time to network with other players in the industry of sport. We must prepare for the return to football and all should be ready.
“Players must stay fit and make sure that when the game starts, they are competition ready. Equally the referees should familiarise themselves with all updated rules and coaches to develop new training strategies and methods,” he said.
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