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MBABANE – It appears the country’s footballers have accepted the new normal – living with COVID-19 without borders to the lovely game.

For over a month now, several elite players from almost all the 14 Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) clubs last season, have been dishing it out for the rural folk, who are less privileged to watch them play official games in venues like Somhlolo National Stadium and Mavuso Sports Centre. 

“They pack a certain sports ground around Lobamba on Saturdays and play football. 

Those we see at Lobamba aren’t even the only ones because there are various teams which are formed in the rural areas,” said an impeccable source.


Upon investigating the elite stars’ involvement as they are expected to be role models and lead by example in adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, it was confirmed that the players have been in action for quite some time now, to the point that even police, warders and soldiers are involved in the action. 

This is despite an ongoing football ban in the country by government, which if breached, could have perpetrators arrested and fined up to E25 000 or serve jail time. 

One of these teams is even named after a certain player (name deliberately withheld) from the security forces clubs. 

The Eswatini Football (EFA) also suspended football and to date, it remains unknown when the game will return in the country.

Some of the players who have returned to action despite the COVID-19 ban come from teams like Green Mamba, Royal Leopard, Young Buffaloes, Manzini Sea Birds, Moneni Pirates, Mbabane Swallows, Tinyosi FC and Mbabane Highlanders, to name a few. Apparently, this is an old team formed in 2015 by a former Green Mamba striker and its players include South Africa-based internationals last season. Notably, the abovementioned players do not appear in the few pictures the team has taken each time it got together for games. 

“We’re playing in the communities in the rural areas,” was the response from the player the club is named after. Questioned if they were worried about getting arrested for breaching the COVID-19 rules, he said they always stop playing whenever the police ordered them to do so.

“It’s been a long time since football was stopped,” he said, while adding they had been winning their games.

EFA marketing and communications officer said just this past Monday morning, players were expected to continue adhering to the ban and government’s regulations to prevent the spread of the pandemic. 

He said the EFA was still waiting to get a directive from the country’s government, otherwise all that was happening now were preparations.

The EFA has been conducting workshops for CAF Club Licensing and the FIFA Online Registration of players for the next season. 

PLE Chief Operations Officer (COO) Pat Vilakati also spoke against playing football at this stage until government gives the green light to do so. 

He warned the elite players to stop playing football and be patient as the inactivity was meant to protect their lives as well as their families from COVID-19.


Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati when reached for comment, said they were continuing to enforce the law. 

“We have had some incidents where we found people playing and stopped them or even arrested them and we will continue doing that,” she said.

Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi urged the public to refrain from breaching the COVID-19 regulations. However, signs indicate a slight relaxation from the nation in adhering to the rules, with some even openly saying the statistics were now going down, seemingly with the notion that it was due to the approaching summer season. 

Meanwhile, football was suspended last March before the EFA called the 2019/20 season over, slightly over two months ago.

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