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FOOTBALL SHOULD LIFT COVID-19 ‘VEIL OF SECRECY’

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My dearest readers………Writing in the South Africa’s Sunday Times this past weekend, Katherine Priesbatch Baxter made a poignant point about the invisible enemy that is COVID-19, which has claimed more than 2 million lives in the world.

Baxter, in a heart-wrenching article, recounted how her mother’s 10 days of trauma after contracting the coronavirus. It was her point of departure that really touched my heart. “COVID-19 is a physically painful, mentally taxing, lonely disease. Families are not allowed to comfort their loved ones as they lie in hospital. Patients are often left to pass away on their own. Even burials are less natural, with limited numbers of people allowed to pay their respects. It is one of the cruellest illnesses I have ever come across.” So touching. So poignant. So true.

losing

Our lives have been turned upside down. We are losing our friends, relatives in numbers. As of yesterday, we had over 376 deaths in this country already and these are mainly people we know. The numbers have turned into names of people we know; people who were even close to us. Sports, as we know it, has also been hit by a six by the pandemic. Everything has been grinded to a halt – rightly so. It was prudent of government to realise that safety comes before sport.

This column, the State-of-the-Nation-Sports-Address (SONSA), was very vocal in calling for the league season to be suspended in the face of the surging number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. I am glad, if not overtly proud, that the calls were heeded as the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) swiftly suspended all its activities. To continue staging football games in the middle of this pandemic in particular with seemingly ill-equipped and financially-limping football teams, would have been selfish and inconsiderate towards the football players themselves.

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Yes, the entertainment the players provide has been our torchbearer in these dark, difficult times even without the fans going to the stadium. But this virus doesn’t care whether you are a soccer player or not. It holds no brief for anyone. It kills. We could not and cannot afford to be complacent about this devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Lofeleba lona (in the weekend-was-hard voice of Pastor Justice) is cruel. The responsibility to curb the spread of this virus lies with us as individuals and communities, to protect each other and to shield the elderly and the vulnerable.

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: Salary review/job losses
What should PSAs choose, job losses or salary review?