Danger: Football parks busy, despite Covid-19 restrictions
I stood at the side of the road and observed a very skilful player dribbled past two players and with a wonderful leg-over, and struck the ball in between the thighs of the goalkeeper into the goalpost.
Most of the bystanders watching the game clapped for the amateur footballer’s brilliant play.
Those who were familiar with his skills burst into chants, screaming “Del Piero”
I was so fascinated with the youngster’s moves that I decided to delay my initial journey to the provision shop where I had to buy some lemons for a slimming recipe I was trying out.
I was so captivated by the game that I forgot to distance myself from the other viewers who were standing close to me, but I quickly wore my nose-mask after a fellow bystander sneezed heavily.
The sneezing brought my attention to the danger that people were exposing themselves to by flouting a Covid-19 protocol such as social distancing.
However, I also saw this as a good opportunity to find why people were able to show a great deal of the defiance for the ongoing pandemic which has already claimed more than 270 lives in Ghana while infecting more than 45,000 people.
I took to a conversation with one of the spectators about why people still engage in sports despite the ban of sporting activities declared by the President on the 16th March.
The feedback was interesting. He told me that the current pandemic was not a really serious one, but was just a normal disease being exaggerated by the government and health professionals.
This statement didn’t come as a shock to me because a lot of myths had been spread about the virus which led to the misinformation.
After observing the risk that people were exposed to and the misinformation going on, I decided to pay a visit to other parks with the aim of interacting with people who were still actively engaged in contact sports.
So I visited the second park in my community and there were fewer bystanders this time around.
With my nose-mask on, I stood by a young bystander who was eagerly watching the game and cheering the players on.
I also applauded some of the outstanding players to get his attention and within a short time, we started discussing about the transfer of players in the European football leagues.
When the conversation was at its peak, I questioned him about why some of the players are taking the risk to play on the field during this coronavirus season.
He confidently proclaimed to me that this kind of disease was only effective on a person who had a weak immune system and Africans generally had a strong immune system so the virus was less likely to affect any of them.
Supporting his claim, he made reference to the lower number of people dying in Africa as compared to the higher number of people dying, including Europe and Asia.
This also did not come as a shock to me since his comparison was valid, although it did not erase the fact that the ongoing pandemic is a serious one and preventive measures were to be adhered to.
I decided to make my third journey to a park where I could interact with a lot of young people so I went to the “Kawukudi Park” which is a kilometre walk away from the 37 Military Hospital.
With keen interest, I observed the environment where a lot of children were gathered at and to my utter surprise, I didn’t find a single person wearing a nose-mask.
I stood beside the basketball court for minutes and watched the kids who were aggressively attacking and showed no signs of staying away from each other.
Wondering about the harm that was being caused if anyone on the court was coronavirus positive, I enquired from a young guy standing by me about what he thought of the coronavirus.
He exclaimed that it was a pandemic but boldly expressed that it is not dangerous. When I asked him why he did not see the pandemic to be dangerous, his answer gave me a cause to be worried..
He told me that a lot of people including his friends have been playing on the field since the outbreak of the corona pandemic, but none of them had fallen ill or died in the process.
With these answers, I really felt a lot of these kids were lacking adequate information about the virus.
However, I still moved to the other side where football was being played and observed that there was a bit of space between the players as compared to the Basketball court.
Seeing some children between the ages of 5-10 standing beside the field viewing the game of football played, I approached them and started a conversation about football clubs.
The interaction declined a bit when I added the conversation about coronavirus and protocols that were being observed.
Most of them believed that the coronavirus was very real although none of them were observing any preventive measures.
They affirmed that they all had nose masks at home, but one of the youngsters told me that they were on the field so they did not need to use a nose-mask.
I struggled to comprehend this analogy of the youngster speaking to me, but after a while, I remembered that most of the sporting competitions that were going on which were broadcasted on television showed players on the field with no nose-masks.
Perhaps, that was what these kids were trying to emulate, while they did not understand the mechanics of how these players were tested and isolated regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.
My last journey was to the Atomic Hills park in Ashongman Estate where a lot of local teams and students used for their training drills as well as football matches.
This time around, I was seeking to speak to a very elderly person to get his/her view on the issue, so I stood patiently watching a football match and expecting the audience to grow bigger by the minutes.
After more than half an hour, I finally spotted a spectator who I estimated to be in his thirties.
I moved closer to where he was standing and I realized he was wearing a Manchester United club Jersey which happens to be the club I support.
After having a lengthy conversation about the current state of the club, which was a really passionate one, I finally ended the conversation with a question about domestic sporting activities going on in this pandemic season.
He started off by admitting that the coronavirus pandemic is real but sharply argued that sporting activities helped people to stay fit and active, which contributed to a strong immune system.
The elderly man added that it will be very difficult for people to follow the president’s directive to stay away from sporting activities because that was the only way that some of the local players and students could entertain themselves.
The few days that I spent in collating information about ongoing sports activities and why people were risking their lives in this dangerous pandemic season taught me some few things.
Firstly, I realised that the education system of our country needs to be largely improved owing to the fact that people find it hard to grasp intelligence about events that goes on around them.
Secondly, some alternative measures are needed to be put in place for the fight against the pandemic to be very effective.
Lastly, a lot of Ghanaians are very passionate about sports and will take risks and make commitments to excel in their field of sports , hence the amount of support given to sports in the country must be improved.
Although there has been a decline in the number of recorded active cases of coronavirus in the nation and the world as a whole, it is still necessary for us to keep observing the Covid-19 protocols.
Activities like sports where a lot of people come into contact and might share the virus among themselves will only compromise the efforts which are being put in place to reduce the number of coronavirus cases.
There must be some guidelines put in place even if sporting activities are to go on, like the wearing of nose-masks and face-shields .
With time, this pandemic will be a thing of the past, but the sad aspect is that a lot of lives could be lost because some actions were not taken.