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Sports

No turning back

Sports Council insists on empty stadiums, competitions to commence November 9

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Walter Nyamilandu

Malawi National Council of Sports has commenced the drilling of sport associations on Covid-19 safety guidelines in readiness for the return of sports activities.

The government announced that athletes were free to resume training on October 17 after suspension of all sports activities in March.

The suspension followed the government’s declaration of a state of disaster aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.

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During one of its recent meetings with the associations, Sports Council insisted that spectators will not be allowed during both training and competitions until health experts recommend otherwise.

Council also indicated that matches will be played in approved venues where crowd control will be possible.

The associations were also told that competitions will only start from November 9.

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Council acting Executive Secretary, Henry Mereka, said the guidelines were formulated based on various factors following a prolonged break due to the pandemic.

“We came up with the guidelines as a way of sustaining sporting and recreation activities. We also feel the return of sport should help us save lives and restore livelihoods. These guidelines were formulated through a consultative process with different stakeholders who gave their views and expertise on the matter,” Mereka said.

He said it was important to empower associations with various skills to curb effects of the pandemic.

“We are encouraging our affiliates to ensure that they abide with the gradual process of re-opening of sporting activities in three phases.

“The Covid-19 situation has created serious fears in the sports sector due to the prolonged suspension of sporting activities which has affected the standards of sports. Athletes’ physical fitness and competence has surely been affected,” Mereka said.

He said Council will be monitoring the situation on the ground to stop all sporting activities that have not been sanctioned.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) president, Walter Nyamilandu, said they are ready to resume football activities.

“We finalised our Football Restart Protocol a long time ago and it has been certified by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.

“It is just as good as plug-and-play. We will be announcing a revised football calendar next week after finalising consultations with sponsors,” Nyamilandu said.

He also said Fam would today announce the second phase of the Covid-19 Football Relief Support towards all the stakeholders to enable them return to the game.

Netball Association of Malawi General Secretary, Carol Bapu, said they had a fruitful interaction with Council.

“We need to implement the guidelines to protect every stakeholder in the game,” she said.

The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has been at the centre of providing direction for sports resumption with Malawi national football team being allowed to commence training last week.

Sports Council has since given consent to the associations for training matches to start from Monday.

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