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Football: To play or not play?

MQONDISI DUBE
The return: The BFA wants football to return this month PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
To play or not to play? That is football’s most pressing question.

After nearly a year of inactivity, authorities are preparing for a return to the pitch later this month with the completion of the Orange FA Cup.

The leagues are expected to spring back into life in February, marking exactly 12 months since the ball was last kicked on the local scene. Only the national team has been active since March, playing two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Zambia in November.

Now, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of a new variant, the men and women and Lekidi Centre face tough decisions. Football thirsty fans have amplified calls for the return to action, but COVID-19 is still hanging around menacingly. Transformation committee chairperson, Jagdish Shah said they remain optimistic of a February start for the league. “Hopefully yes (we will start in February). The situation is not great, there is the second wave, there is a curfew. It is becoming difficult, but we are hopeful,” Shah said yesterday. He said there was no option to postpone the start, as doing

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so would mean pushing the return of football to next season. “If we postpone, then we would rather start a new season after July so that everything goes back to normal. I think we will start (in February),” Shah said. Football administrators will have to get the green light from health authorities particularly if the situation deteriorates. Shah said the government would assist with COVID-19 tests as players are expected to undergo regular screening. Regarding the appointment of the new Botswana Football League chief executive officer, Shah said it was not a priority at the moment.

“There are so many other boxes to tick. It does not mean that football cannot start without a CEO. Let us use the resources that we have at the moment and carry on with life,” he said. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, clubs are expected to meet Club Licensing requirements with the screening process already underway.

Clubs have endured a difficult year after sports activities were halted in March, in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19.



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