The South African Soccer Scene and Where to From the COVID Experience
Firstly, I’d like to thank the SportsEdTV team for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts, perspectives and opinion on this fantastic platform. Hopefully, I can give all of you some insight into what’s happening on the African continent and more specifically South Africa. Soccer is very dear to my heart and it’s always interesting to hear and share our different ways of approaching the beautiful game. Let’s dive right in.
The Covid Effect
Contrary to some belief around the world South Africa has some amazing health care facilities and some of the best medical doctors/personnel there is. When we first got wind of this disease that was emulating from somewhere in the far east we really didn’t know what to expect. I remember sitting with one of our coaches and we’d just gotten the news that the English Premier League was to be postponed. For me personally this was devastating cause I’ve been waiting for Liverpool to win the league for the past 30 years. Anyway, the thought was there’s no chance it would get all the way down to us but like everywhere else in the world, it did.
Now to give you an idea first of what the South African culture look forward to on weekends. It’s being around your friends, lighting a braai “barbeque”, having something to drink and watching SPORT. When the first few cases of Covid were reported from a flight coming in from Italy, no one could see what was just about to hit us.
South Africa, on the 26th of March were put into a National lockdown, one which currently continues as I’m writing this. Our President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that with almost immediate affect everyone besides essential workers have to stay at home. We were in what was called lockdown level 5. We were only allowed to send one person from home to shop for food items only. The sale of everything else was banned from kitchen pans, clothing, cigarettes and alcohol. Businesses shut down and you were not allowed to visit or see friends and family.
ALL SPORTS TO BE POSTPONED/CANCELLED INDEFINITELY!!!
No soccer, rugby or cricket (all of our biggest past times) for us to watch anymore. I think this depressed people more than seeing a few loved ones to be honest. South Africa has a great sporting culture and it’s something that has always brought us together as a nation. We are very passionate about our National teams and love a bit of banter amongst our local teams.
Our biggest challenge for the kids in our programs was how to still keep them active whilst they have to stay at home. At the best of times, we have to really push them during normal on-field training sessions so to find a solution for them at home was testing. For the first few weeks, we did Zoom sessions where the focus was more on core strength and flexibility but it was inevitable that they would get bored, which they did. That’s where platforms like SportsEdTV and our Coerver sessions have and still are coming to the rescue. I quite literally now send the boys the link for the session which they can do at home and they send me a vid to show me there progress. It’s giving them an opportunity to be a bit more responsible for themselves and show whether they want to improve in their own capacity or not. The proof will be evident at our first session back for sure.
I’m very happy to say that our local league the PSL (Premier Soccer League) has started up again after nearly 5 months of being dormant. The PSL, like most around the world, set strict guidelines and regulations for all players and personnel to adhere. Various club players and staff had to be tested and monitored before being entered into what the league has called the “bubble”. Once you are in the “bubble” which all the teams currently are, you are basically staying within your group and completing the rest of the season before being let out. It seems a bit harsh to not be able to see your family or friends but it makes sense to get what needs to be done, done.
Where to from here?
Well, as I see the trends of what’s happening here and around the rest of the world, we basically open up our programs a little while after seeing what’s happened to other countries that already have. All the European leagues have been completed along with Champions Bayern Munich closing out the Champions League.
Leagues are up and running in the US and the European leagues will restart their campaigns again within the next six weeks or so. Grassroots programs are running everywhere else and I’m super optimistic and hopeful that we’ll be allowed to get the kids back on the grass soon. We desperately need to get going again but obviously keep in mind there is a real threat with Covid.
In my opinion, nothing uplifts the kids in our Coerver program more than being out on the field training, catching a bit of a sweat and having a laugh with your teammates. In what has to be called a very dark period we need a little ray of light at the end of the tunnel. That light is our sport for me.
Not knowing what will happen in the coming weeks/months is quite daunting but we have to remain optimistic going forward. We here in South Africa have a really hot summer approaching us and with a little common sense and responsibility I believe we’ll all be back to normal sooner rather than later. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Thanks once again to the SportsEdTV team, what a fantastic platform for sports enthusiasts around the world.
Looking forward, stay safe.