Coaches welcome covid-19 shutdown. . . government on coronavirus high alert

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Nigel Matongorere and Godknows Matarutse
SPORTS WRITERS

MOST Castle Lager Premiership coaches have welcomed government’s ban on all sports events as a measure to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

On Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a nationwide ban on all public gatherings of more than 100 people.

Despite a few scares, Zimbabwe is yet to record a single positive case of the deadly and contagious virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, last year.

However, Harare has been forced to ramp up its preventive measures following a huge spike in positive cases in neighbouring South Africa, which now stand at more than 100.

On a global scale, so far 8 000 have been killed and 200 000 have now been infected as health experts grapple with containing and finding a vaccine for the novel virus.

All the major football leagues in the world in England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy are currently suspended.
With Zimbabwe now joining the rest of the world in suspending public gatherings, local football figures understand the decision the government had to take.

“I think we are going to sit down and come up with a special programme for the boys because it’s going to be difficult to continue with our normal schedule.

“We have to take it one day at a time. Everything for now is to make sure we stay safe from this coronavirus. It’s not a laughing matter and we really need to educate our players on this.

“We encourage everyone to exercise care and take the necessary precautionary measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus as per the guidelines,” Highlanders technical manager Mark Harrison told the Daily News.

Although the suspension has put a dent on his side’s preseason preparations, Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas welcomed the decision.

“I would say it’s a massive blow to us. We were looking forward to the season ahead but in the wake of the coronavirus; it’s only noble to adhere to what the president has said.

“It’s something that is happening all over the world so there is little really we can do. But honestly speaking it’s not good for us because we were raring to go.

“It’s difficult to continue training without knowing because players need that motivation. For now, what we are doing is educating players on the dos and don’ts to ensure they stay free from the coronavirus,” Antipas told the Daily News.

ZPC Kariba coach Godfrey Tamirepi said he appreciates the government’s decision to suspend all sporting events.

“This is a global pandemic and the government had to take corrective measures to make sure the virus does not spread here.

“In these times football ceases to be important as the lives and health of people becomes the first priority.

“The other challenge we are going to face is that when the season eventually starts, the football is going to be cramped in order to make up for lost time,” Tamirepi told the Daily News.

Triangle United coach Taurai Mangwiro said football should be put on the back burner during such distressing times.

“We have been following the news and have seen that the virus is wreaking havoc across the world. No one is immune to this threat as we have seen that it has affected presidents, movie stars, sports stars and even the ordinary man in the street.

“On our part though, the tricky part of this ban is that it is indefinite and we do not know when it will be lifted.

“But that does not mean we will complain that the season has been delayed; the situation is very complex and the health of people should be put ahead of football,” Mangwiro said.

Dynamos chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa said: “As a club everything that we do will be guided by government policy. We actually had to spare time on Monday for an awareness and education session which was conducted by a qualified doctor.

“We have invested a lot in the pre-season and we have to be more careful about how we preserve the gains made.

“It’s difficult to abandon training completely. Our technical team is working on a programme that will ensure our players remain fit.”

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