Coronavirus and its impact on football

Phiri Cawe

While restrictions have been significantly relaxed, we all agree that coronavirus has not gone away. However, as a sports enthusiast, soccer in particular, I can’t help but get impatient about the future of amateur soccer in this country.

After six months of lockdown, I can’t help but wonder about its progress and my main concerns are around its leadership. One thing that those who lead the sport should know is that leaders don’t always come from the suburbs. Great leaders can come from poor areas too. But in soccer such leaders seem to be blocked instead of being encouraged.

I write this not to criticise the house when it is cracking but while it is still intact. In fact, I hope I can advise the builders while it is still under construction.

With the Cape Town arm of the South African Football Association (Safa-CT) and its 34 Local Football Associations (LFAs) keeping mum about the restart of amateur football, one has to question the leadership.

While the teams have been given no indication as to when they can start playing again, suddenly we hear that the ABC Motsepe league has a team to compete in the play-offs in Gauteng. But how, with 13 games to play?

Why were the teams not contacted or were they, and I just missed that? Apart from reporting on the game, I am also actively involved in amateur soccer.

I understand that government will only allow teams to play if they are able to set up bio-bubbles for players but this is possibly one of the most expensive protocols to adhere to.

Bear in mind, these are amateurs, who are not paid by Safa. The only amateur teams that are paid are those in the ABC Motsepe League. But how much are they paid and when? The travelling allowance of about R30 000 does not cover one third of the teams’ expenses.

Some teams were already facing budget struggles due to a lack of sponsorship and funding. Now they are expected to fund the bio-bubble.

Setting up expensive bubbles for them is a far-fetched dream unless Safa takes responsibility like it did in the case of the Premier League and GladAfrica. The announcement then that the province has a team to partake in the play-offs leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

But I think Safa-CT should have communicated with the teams and LFAs rather than acting as if they are above the teams. Those who lead should bear in mind that they were deployed by the same people they seem to disregard.

At the Motsepe League, there should be a team to represent us in the play-offs and that team should leave with the blessing of others. However, with the Western Cape still having to play 13 games, anything could have happened. The teams in the top three stood a big chance of surpassing the team in the top spot. But, behind everyone’s back, Safa decided to give the one on top a chance to represent the province. That should be hurting other teams with ambitions to be in GladAfrica too.

The decision was suicidal. The number one team must be decided on the field of play. That said, I congratulate Zizwe United and hope that they may represent the province well.