Last Friday, health minister Kalumbi Shangula announced that contact sports was prohibited as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Namibia.
Firstly, contact sports, in particular, is a career to many. When you suspend contact sports, you are suspending someone’s career and consequently sending them to the streets. Contact sport like rugby and football are allowed in countries such as South Africa. At the same time, spectators in the UK were recently given a greenlight to return to stadiums. Moreover, the UEFA EURO 2020 Cup is expected to kick off this coming Friday. Why can’t we do the same?
It is well documented that sports emerges as an important component of maintaining a healthy body and preventing numerous diseases, as well as contributing immensely to the employment and socio-economic development of a country. Shutting down contact sports results in another catastrophe of unemployment and numerous unhealthy bodies. So, how is that a solution?
Without a doubt, in order to address challenges posed by Covid-19 to contact sports, collaboration and consultations with all stakeholders must have taken place to construct well-rounded and informed decisions that will be beneficial for all parties.
Meanwhile, that is not the formula being used by the decision makers, and it is causing a disastrous impact to people involved in contact sports – both recreational and professional.
The major concern here is, what if this pandemic stays with us for the next decade, and what will happen to jobs created through contact sports? What will happen to keeping bodies healthy by doing recreational contact sports? What will happen to industries selling different sports products? This is why we need a collaborative approach.
On the other hand, I personally find it unfair when the government prohibits contact sports while allowing shebeens and bars to operate. These are places where people share beer bottles and hookah pipes, and they don’t even wear masks. The reason to open bars is to sustain businesses and employment. Why can’t the same formula be applied to contact sports?
All in all, it should be highly noted that suspending contact sports is not a solution to curb Covid-19 but a disastrous and catastrophic decision causing poverty, unemployment and uncountable health risks.
Logically, the Covid-19 response team and all stakeholders should use an approach that is inclusive and consultative by collaborating, engaging and researching. That will be a noble and commendable type of leadership.
* Stefan Ngolo is a sports enthusiast and sports education scholar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org