Following the decision by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to temporarily suspend all football activities until April 10 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, league teams have stepped up precautionary measures.
The pandemic, which broke out in Wuhan, China last December has killed nearly 9,000 people worldwide.
Neighbouring South Africa has been the hardest hit in the region with 116 cases while Namibia and Zambia have recorded two cases each.
Botswana is yet to record a case of the pandemic, but the BTC Premiership teams are not taking any chances. Champions, Township Rollers led from the forefront as the playing staff has been given leave.
At a meeting called by the club’s president on Monday morning, Popa’s playing contingent was given a break from training until March 30. Across town, Gaborone United will see their rhythm on the pitch disturbed by the pandemic. The club has joined the bandwagon and on Wednesday, through its social media platforms, it informed fans that the players have been on break from training until March 27.
At army barracks, training has been halted indefinitely. The decision affects the BDF XI senior team, BDF XI women team, and development sides. Both Police XI and Prisons XI have also stopped their training sessions indefinitely.
“Notwane has stopped training until further notice,” the club’s public relations officer, Mogomotsi ‘Ace’ Mogomotsi said briefly.
“This pandemic poses a negative impact on us. We are losing out on the gate takings, which is one of our main financial sources. We had a meeting with players to make them aware of the situation and map a way forward,” he said.
Up north, TAFIC has given players individual training programmes while on break, as they will look to avoid the chop when the league resumes. Orapa United’s Kabo William said the team has been training, but were due to meet yesterday to discuss the next step.
The league is left with just the final third of games, with Orange FA Cup at the quarterfinals stage. The BFA would make a decision before April 10 on how the football activities will proceed.
There is a likelihood that the season will extend to June. It would be the second consecutive time that the season is prolonged beyond its traditional May finish after the Orange FA Cup was played in mid-June last year, due to national team commitments.