Great to be able to start playing again, says Tanzanian footballer Mohamedi

Ally Mohamedi, who plays for Namungo FC in Tanzania, shared his experience of playing football in the post-coronavirus times in a chat.

“To ensure fair-play, we try and avoid handshakes as much as possible and once a team scores a goal, the celebrations are relatively muted and quieter,” says Ally Mohamedi.   -  Special Arrangement

Tanzania became the first African country to resume its national football league on June 13 after declaring itself COVID-19 free on June 8. The 20-team Tanzania Premier League had come to a grinding halt in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ally Mohamedi, who plays for Namungo FC, shared his experience of playing football in the post-coronavirus times in a chat with Sportstar.

“It’s great to start playing football again. We are happy to be back,” said Ally from Tanzania. The 26-year-old elaborated on the changes that have been brought in since the resumption.

“The Health Ministry of Tanzania released a set of guidelines for all clubs to follow. They must provide clean and safe water to everyone. Our temperature is checked while entering the stadium and once more at half-time. We must enter the stadium in masks. At the interval, the authorities sanitise the corner poles and the goal post.”

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The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) has also ensured that social distancing is followed. The players and staff on the bench have to sit at a one-metre distance from each other and must wear masks and gloves. Sanitisers are adequately available in the stadiums.

Playing conditions

The Namungo FC left-back Ally discussed the difference in training after the hiatus. “We started training three weeks prior to the start of the league. While we use the gyms and showers normally, where everyone can use the facilities together, the difference lies in warm-ups. Only a maximum of three-four players can warm-up at one time and all the drills are done individually,” he said.

“Moreover, we try and avoid handshakes as much as possible and once a team scores a goal, the celebrations are relatively muted and quieter,” Ally added. The dressing rooms are fumigated before and after the match but there are no further restrictions for the players.

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Fans are back

Ally, who had previously played for clubs Maji Maji and Ndanda, revealed that the spectators have been allowed to come and watch the game but they must maintain social distancing. “The (Health) Ministry has strictly mentioned that fans must maintain a distance of one metre from each other and no stadium is filled to its maximum capacity.”

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However, the elderly and the children are barred from entering the ground due to their vulnerability of contracting the virus. Those entering the stadium have to wear masks, wash their hands with soap or use a sanitiser and get their temperature checked.

Namungo FC is currently placed fourth in the league table with 54 points, while run-away leader Simba FC has already bagged 75 points after matchday 30.