Despite government gazetting new regulations restricting public gatherings to 10 people, law enforcers face a challenging task to stop social football from taking place in many parts of the country.
A snap survey shows that social football is still taking place in both rural and urban areas including major cities and townships even though all sporting activities remain suspended.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) sanctioned competitions remain suspended since March 2020 when government declared Malawi a state of national disaster threats of Covid-19 pandemic.
However, social football and bonanza tournaments are still taking place attracting sizeable crowd thereby defying the social distance requirement.
Some areas where such unsanctioned tournaments are taking place include Nyambadwe, Makata primary school grounds in Blantyre, Mchesi Lilongwe and Mulunguzi in Zomba.
Covid-19 task force Chairperson Dr John Phuka said it is unfortunate that people continue playing social football thereby increasing the risk of the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
“We discourage such public gatherings to avoid putting the lives at risk,” he said.
Malawi Police Service spokesperson James Kadadzera warned law breakers that they risk arrest.
“Laws have been put in place and were effected on Saturday. As law enforcers we are on the ground making sure that every citizen is abiding by the law. We are also calling on all Malawians to take full responsibility in the fight against the spread of the pandemic,” Kadadzera said.
He said the police will jointly work with village headmen to sensitise the community against activities that might lead to the spread of the pandemic.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said it is time for the nation to accept that football is no longer a priority following the pandemic.
“While we are appreciating that football commands a lot of following in the country we must also respect that the pandemic is here and continues to take lives. Let us all take responsibility to help government curb the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
The former Fam acting general secretary also asked traditional leaders to civic educate the community to halt the spread of the pandemic
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.