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Measures taken as Tanzania’s Soccer returns

Last updated 1 month ago | By Emmanuel Too

Simba Sports Club, settled on a 1- all draw with Ruvu Shooting club over the weekend.

After two months since the suspension of football in Tanzania, fans can finally quench their thirst, after the return of soccer in the country.

Tanzania is now the second African country, after Burundi to resume footballing activities after the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a sudden hiatus in the continent. 

Just like other soccer leagues that have returned, football in Tanzania has come back with a new face. Ministry of Health guidelines in top enforcement to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Tanzanian Government had earlier cleared resumption of sporting activities from June 1st. The directive also made sure the Tanzanian Football Federation (TFF) came up with the rules of the resumption.

 “I have a plan, for the nation, to allow the sports activities to resume and go on because these activities bring entertainment for the Tanzanians. Life has to go on,” said President Magufuli.

The sporting industry, has now put the President’s remarks into action, days after he hinted on the signs of the return of football in the country.

Some of the guidelines which were floated were touted to affect the footballers, fans, and the general public interested in taking part in the games.

 To this end, social distancing, wearing of masks, and sanitizing hands have been a must for all fans who watched the weekend games.

According to TFF, only a limited number of fans would be allowed into stadiums. They will also be required to maintain social distance, wear masks, and sanitize before getting into the venue.

Evidently, in the weekend’s match between Simba SC and Ruvu Shooting, these guidelines were put to action, in a bid to make sure the events were carried in a safe environment.

Water containers at the entrance of the stadium were in place, where fans were first directed to wash their hands with soap and running water before entering to watch their favorite lions roar, or the Ruvus firing. 

Fanatics, both ardent and otherwise, donning their jerseys, lineup to undergo this first ritual. This being one of the security clearance protocols for one of Covid-19’s symptoms-Fever.

The temperatures would however rise again, as the usual tension and emotions would rise as the match soar to the climax. The same was the order for Yanga and Azam fans before access was granted in the weekend fixtures.

However, children and the elderly were denied access to the stadiums owing to their vulnerability to the deadly virus.
Similarly, footballers were also put under austere scrutiny.

From the bus they boarded to the stadium, social distancing was observed. Each player had to sit on his designated seat. 

They also got their temperatures checked before boarding and after alighting from the bus that moved them from their training camps.

Additionally, all the players had their masks on before getting into action. For those who warmed the bench, they were only seen, once in a while, adjusting their masks before celebrating a goal or rising on a point of criticism. 

Medics on the pitch also wore their masks and gloves at all times, as they stood on alert to offer aid to injured players as the game proceeded.

Members of the fourth estate were also part of those affected. Apart from a restricted number, they too, were forced to have masks on and observing all other guidelines to keep Covid-19 at bay.

After the game, players proceeded to their dressing rooms where they were first fumigated before cleaning up with soap and running water. This still under the two-meter social distancing rule.

The government of Tanzania had recently given a green light for training and subsequent return of football, as teams warmed up for the re-start of the season.  

Even during the two week period, teams have been following through a strict code put in place by the health sector in the country.

 Some of the fixtures that marked the return of football in the country included the Young Africans (Yanga) facing off away with Mwadui and the Coastal Union playing Namungo at home in Tanga.

The second-placed Azam also had a date with Mbao at home while leaders Simba SC welcomed Ruvu Shooting at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The results of the game were as follows:
Mwadui 0-1 Yanga
Azam 2-0 Mbao
Simba 1-1 Ruvu Shooting
Namungo 2-2 Coastal Union

The return of football confirms some of the statements made by the Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli, who had hinted on the return of football after a decreasing curve of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“I am emphasizing on the need to remain cautious and keep praying. We need not relax on the safety measures we have been observing but we need to remain committed to them…

The way I am observing the trend [of the coronavirus infections vs recovery] and if we start the week tomorrow on the same footing, I have planned to reopen the schools so that our students can return for their education, “said President Magufuli.

The move now comes just days after the President declared Tanzania coronavirus-free, alleging strict measures the country had taken to fight the virus.

"The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God. I want to thank Tanzanians of all faiths. We have been praying and fasting for God to save us from the pandemic that has afflicted our country and the world. But God has answered us.
I believe, and I'm certain that many Tanzanians believe, that the corona disease has been eliminated by God," he told worshippers on Sunday in Dodoma

This has however been highly criticized by the World Health Organization which maintained that the government of Tanzania had not put serious measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Other top-flight leagues across the globe have also resumed. Some like the English Premier League (EPL) is about to return in the next 48 hours.  

Manchester City versus Arsenal are among the expected fixtures to jump-start the return of football in England, as rivalries and the race for top 4 of the EPL table are awakened.

The German Bundesliga was the first to kick off in mid last month, followed by the Spanish La Liga. The Italian Serie A is expected to make a comeback this weekend. 

One thing is however synonymous with the return of soccer during the Covid-19 pandemic. WHO measures to contain the spread of the pandemic are being observed before, during, and after the matches.

Crowds of fans in the stadiums have been largely reduced, while in many cases matches have been played behind closed doors.

Footballers have also reduced contacts while celebrating goals. This has, however, been a toll order to most players who often find themselves hugging their colleagues unawares in celebrations.

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