...Waiting Endlessly For PTF, NCDC
By Paul Bassey
October 09, 2020
There is a popular sports video
that hit the social media space
with a bang this week. It emanated from Edo State, where the deputy
governor had invited an array of football
stars for a football match to commemorate his administration's victory at the
polls. There was so much fanfare, so
much crowd, so much fun... yet no
facemasks, no social distancing... don't
Mischief-makers (that is what we call
those who are not in our political or social camp) were quick to wonder
whether the ban on contact sports had
been lifted in the country. If "Yes" why
is the domestic league still in limbo? If
"No" do we have any records of "disaster" emanating from that match where all
COVID-19 protocols were thrown
Last week, schools all over the country were given the go-ahead to resume.
The fear exhibited by parents was borne
out of the "innocence factor," that the children not conversant or at home with the
daunting COVID-19 protocols were
likely to resume into imminent danger.
Before then, SS3 students had gone
back to school to take their school certificate exams, armed with facemasks,
while schools were mandated to provide
sanitizers and enough water at critical
points for washing of hands, etc.
In Akwa Ibom, government not fully
at ease with the above, ordered all the
governor's aides (SSAs and SAs) to
monitor and enforce the adherence to
COVID-19 protocols. With the full
blown opening of schools up to primary
level, the task has become very challenging as thousands of students play, mingle
and jostle propelled on the safety wings
of the prayers of their parents.
From the sports community, the debate
that first started when markets, churches
and other businesses were given the goahead to open, gathered momentum. If
innocent school children can be trusted
to stay safe... how much more adults
footballers, administrators who are already abreast with COVID-19 protocols and the havoc caused by the pandemic worldwide?
Before now, all efforts were made by
the NFF, LMC, clubs to align our league
with the European calendar and we succeeded, with the introduction of the
abridged league. Then COVID-19
struck and all hell was let loose.
In the heat of the pandemic, Europeans led in the resumption of football
through tested protocol considerations that included tests, isolations and crowd alienation.
were concluded, cup finals
played and season's successfully concluded.
Africa followed suit. The South Africans created the Bio
Bubble in Gauteng.
Zambians, Egyptians, Tanzanians...
football got the go-ahead to resume. As
we speak, some countries especially in Europe are considering the admission of
a certain percentage of fans to make up
for the lack of atmosphere and animation that the absence of fans has denied
the round leather game.The ongoing French Open (Rolland
Garros) is a typical example of the return of sports to normal as fans,
facemasks and all are back to the terraces, a clear departure from the yawning terraces at the US Open.
What Is Our Problem?
Blame the NCDC, PTF I am told.
I have been tempted to join those who
believe that LMC, NFF, Sports Ministry have not pushed the PTF enough,
have not convinced the NCDC on why
the ban on contact sports should be lifted
Why will they slack? Any
reason for not pushing?
Everyday, we hear of the threats by the
minister on the need for clubs to be club
licensing compliant before the league can
The NFF President reechoes this
again and again.
Have we suddenly realized that if the
"threat" is carried to its logical conclusion that less than six clubs would have
a base to play their matches?
Is this politically a challenge? Are we buying time
to get more clubs on board?
Or, is the recent seven billion naira demand by Next TV on LMC for breach
of contract a threat that may scuttle the
smooth commencement of the league?
For the NPFL to commence in November, the PTF must lift the ban on contact
That will give the clubs
the necessary four weeks minimum to
start training and put the players in shape,
ready for the league.
Worse hit, perhaps, are the clubs in the
continent, especially those who have
signed as many as 10 new players and
will need time for those players to jell
with the older ones in the squad. Worse
hit will be those teams in the continent
who will need not less than 10 competitive league matches before embarking on
their continental expedition.
preparations will not be effective enough.
Worse hit will be those teams who, adhering strictly to club licensing regulations,
will need to shop for alternative venues
and train thereon to be able to adapt and
adopt those venues as "home."
What about the COVID-19 framework? Testing Quarantine, travels and
accommodation, fans, journalists, referees, everything? When are we going to
release all conditions and timeframe necessary to start the league? Are clubs
expected to continue to maintain and pay
players endlessly? This is serious and
After October comes November...
Till next week, by His grace.