OPINION: I can’t wait for ‘new normal’

Phiri Cawe

I know that many of us want sport back and many want the children to go back to school.

Personally, I want to go and kick a ball with my boys – and I know that would be good for my mental health too.

Having said that, I feel conflicted, because I know the health of the people comes first.

But, just like banned items such as cigarettes and alcohol are being illegally sold during lockdown, soccer has also been “smuggled” into some areas, with unofficial tournaments being held in the townships.

And those who have been at home will have have had more time to practise their skills and refine their routines.

I am usually away from home a lot so during lockdown, it has been great to spend all this time with myself, finding different ways to be creative. However, there have been times I’ve had no idea what to do with my time and when I missed exercising and training with others.

Why do I miss sport – soccer in particular? My afternoons are messed up. I have no Friday night soccer and early Sunday morning goalkeeping training. My phone has no more nagging messages from soccer players. This was annoying before but it is the one thing I need right now.

The whispers from this player to that, asking for airtime, data or transport money on a daily basis can be difficult to take. Getting late night calls from players telling you how they trained with empty stomachs has been difficult to swallow. But these are some of things I miss today. Make no mistake, I do miss action on the field of play, but the family-like conversations and togetherness of soccer people are equally missed.

I understand that there is still a lot of uncertainty about Covid-19 and I understand that lives are at stake here but since most shops have opened up, since most people are running in large groups – even though it’s not allowed under the regulations of Level 4 lockdown – we might as well bring back team sports.

Other countries are busy toying with the idea.

Last weekend the Bundesliga became the first European league to return to action, albeit among a fair amount of criticism, and with strict measures in place to ensure the health and safety of those involved. These include regular testing of players, games played in empty venues and substitute players having to wear masks.

The English Premier League also has Project Restart while the La Liga in Spain is expected to resume its games in June. That is promising news. There is a glimmer of hope.

It will be easy for the “haters” to criticise the call for sport to be resumed but anyone involved knows that sport is addictive – but the high is healthier than the one you get from smoking, and we’ve all heard how upset smokers are about not being able to buy cigarettes.

One thing people should know about any sport is that it builds individuals to be better people. and some of us are in sport to groom the talent that is there. We are in sport to try to build a better generation than ours.

Nice guys like me are in sport to multiply ourselves, to help create young people who value love, care, humility and ubuntu.

But I also miss sport for the dubious calls by officials. I miss the shouting people on the stands and the players’ childish behaviour.

And when sporting activity is allowed to resume, I know it is going to be strange to be back on the fields. Physical distancing will have to be observed, and there’ll be a major focus on cleanliness, no spitting –and no hugging.

It will literally be a whole new ball game.

There is also going to be uncertainty from players. They have no idea what to do and when to do that.

But I cannot wait to see the new normal and be part of the change in sport.

Most importantly, I can’t wait to be part of sport bringing back smiles.

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