What we are witnessing is an escalation of the incampasitation of football in Zimbabwe.
After the curse of Covid-19, by far the worst health crisis in over 100 years, which brought everything to a halt, we knew that our lives had changed, and footballers in the country were no exception.
That being said, they (local football stars) can legitimately say now, that they are the ones hit the hardest by the crisis.
Footballers from the country’s top-flight league were subjected to 18 months of inactivity due to government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the novel virus, through a national lockdown.
In those 18 months, just like many people in Zimbabwe, they stayed home and watched helplessly as their counterparts in South Africa resumed action- first in finishing off the 2019-20 season and kickstarting the 2020/2 campaign.
In the aforesaid period, they struggled to make ends meet, with some of them throwing away their prominence status in society to humbly accept help in form of food, from supporters.
Under normal circumstances, as we witness on television during the few hours of the day when there is electricity supply, football stars from other countries aid supporters with food, not the other way round.
The authorities finally cast an attentive ear to continous pleas for the game to return and it did in May with the Chibuku Super Cup, while the league, boosted by the announcement that giant beverages company Delta would continue to bankroll it, was set to commence in July.
Given that they had endured more than a year of not doing what they were born to do, footballers agreed to work together to ensure that all measures put in place by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to curb the virus, were strictly followed during games.
They would get tested every week, despite getting vaccinated, while also agreeing that no fans will be allowed to come to the stadiums.
In fact, all teams in the league, except for Triangle United, got vaccinated while journalists, some of whom were also vaccinated, would also get tested on a weekly basis to be able to cover the games.
Put simply, the game was being played in a very safe environment and the fact that one positive result was recorded since football returned, is a clear testimony that all measures in ensuring safety, were being undertaken.
But for a reason best known to them, those in charge decided to suspend the game again over the weekend, when in an attempt to keep in check surging cases, of the virus, government banned the game.
Football, despite the safe environment it was being played in, was also not given a reprieve when “low risk” sporting disciplines like cricket and golf were given the green light to continue, yesterday.
Against this background, are we realistically-saying we have to wait for Covid-19 to end completely for football to be played again in Zimbabwe without being interupted and regarded as a potential spreader of the virus?
Respectfully-suggesting to those who make decisions, since Covid-19 is the new normal, can’t we navigate our way to ensure that the game is played in the midst of the pandemic, as other countries are doing?
Not that we should follow the footsteps of other countries but if public transport buses, which carry 60 people who are not asked for testing certificates of vaccination cards, with no physical distance at all, are allowed to operate- why can’t football, where everyone follows safety procedures and with less people, involved, not be allowed to continue?