There was a raft of announcements in the last couple of days that shaped my piece today.
Really sad times out there, I was unsurprised to hear that the football leagues in Italy, Germany, and France were being called off. It was inevitable when, on Friday (13 March), word came out that the English Leagues were also called off – suspended till April due to the onslaught of this vicious alien virus named Corona!
Then of course came the news, following in quick succession, that the England internationals (against Denmark and Italy) as well as Nigeria’s Africa Cup qualifiers (of whom I am a part) against Sierra Leone have all suffered the same fate.
The first thing that came to mind, lighthearted in the face of the gloom around was ‘what will I do with myself with no football anywhere?’
It came to highlight just how much of my life has been about football – so much that the immediate future looked rather bleak in front of me, with no games to watch, no players to monitor.
Football has its own lockdown!
I woke up to jokes from everywhere. I talked to my colleague and mentor, who confessed that he watched the first full-length movie with his family for the first time in many years because of the collapse of football. I saw that I was not alone.
I loved this joke by someone, who said “today I noticed a woman on my sofa where I normally sit to watch football and I actually needed reminding that she was my wife!’
For some of us, that is how much into the game we have been over the years.
Everyone will have a story. Football players have theirs. No training sessions and not knowing what to do in their free time.
Most of all, being human, players are scared….worried about the whole situation. They have been in close contact with other players. Managers have contracted the virus, fellow players as well. And they are worried that ‘what if the next one is me?’
So I feel like it is time to be human. Football is no longer important at this time.
Lives are being lost on a scarily daily basis, in countries around the world.
These are unprecedented times in our world. Football authorities had a bit of a meltdown. Initially they wanted to carry on as normal, but saying players should not shake hands before and after the games. But somehow, if they score goals, it was ok for them to pile on top of one another, slobbering over each other in celebration! Who ever thought that up in the first instance?
Then they came up with the bogus idea of playing behind closed doors! No crowd, no spectators (Another bad idea). Is football not about spectators? Is football not about entertaining? Why deprive fans of entry when they will still converge at the gates to the stadium to see their idol players come in and go out of the premises? Ill-thought, ill-advised.
And I am glad that common sense eventually prevailed.
Because now is the time to retreat to humanity. We have to collectively fight this virus. We are not scientists, so we can not proffer solutions to the pandemic.
But our leaders can engage one another to protect each other, and protect humanity with no selfish motives.
I have reached out, constantly, to people about the importance of hygiene. We must be our brothers’ keepers.
We must steer clear of areas that our authorities say we should not be.
We must also engage common sense and logic in determining what we do in these circumstances. We are our own police, and we must police ourselves to a point where we know we have done our bit.
This is a virus that must be beaten. It is a scenario that we must get to the bottom of. And we have a collective responsibility to fight it off successfully.
And in doing that, we must not be selfish. We must not look beyond the health and safety of all in pursuant of our personal ends.
Much as I love my football, much as I miss the game and its coverage on television, much as I miss attending the big FIFA events and being at the forefront of global football politics, I have come to accept, and I want to share this acceptance and inflict on us all, that this indeed, is the time to revert to humanity!