Following Sports, Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa’s announcement that professional sports can start training, clubs across the city are putting Covid-19 safety measures in place.
Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) is one of those bodies that have gotten the ball rolling, regarding their Covid-19 readiness measures.
Danny Jones, WPRFU’s club rugby general manager, said the process unfolds with SA Rugby, as they work with World Rugby who, like other international sports bodies, have been working on the various return-to-play models.
“The future of sport including rugby will see several components of health and safety practiced at all levels including club level. The return to play will see a level of compliance required as per government regulations.”
These regulations, he said, require them to consider all the aspects of training and competition to prevent the spread of the coronavirus including, but not limited to, sanitisation of facilities, compliance applications, Covid-19 education and much more.
“At the WPRFU we have been implementing the required Covid-19 readiness compliance protocols which sees compliance officers at all facilities. A similar model will most likely be required at club level. This could see that all events and venues will be required to be Covid-19 compliant, with a preceding application process,” he said.
He also reminded their members that even though we are now on level 3 of the national plan, all protocols must be observed.
On the club rugby front, Collegians Rugby Football Club chairman Armien Brink said, as clubs they are aware that the decision to allow for non-contact training, but not playing, is meant for the professionals only.
This, he said, was understandable because, unlike club and community sports, professional sports take place in a controlled environment, which makes it easy to control things.
“The same cannot be said for community clubs and grassroots sports, where the environment is not really controlled.
“It’s not safe enough to open up local sports at the moment. Our facilities, for instance, have been on lockdown for a long time and are still in a bad state,” he said.
“The question we should be asking is, is the City ready? Because there’s no use for the clubs to be ready if the facilities are not ready,” he said.
Brink’s concern is understandable. During the pre-season ahead of this year’s campaign, in February, his side was still not sure where they would play their home matches. Their homeground in Lentegeur was, due to vandalism, not in a condition to host competitive matches. And that meant the club, for two years running, had to play their home matches away from home.
Elsewhere, Primrose Cricket Club stalwart, Saadiek Davids, wasted no time grabbing the small window of opportunity opened by Minister Mthethwa that allowed training under strict conditions.
For Davids, who the runs Not Out Private Coaching at Rosmead sports ground, the minister’s announcement prompted him to apply for the necessary permits to start coaching.
This was on top of the fact that non-contact professional codes like tennis were allowed to be played behind closed doors.
There is now a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” following the two-month lockdown period.
Davids, who has been involved with cricket for 30 years, said although it’s not cricket season, now is probably the best time to try and get back in to the swing of things, without breaking any of the lockdown protocols.
“So 80% of our coaching is on a one-on-one basis, although we do also have school and group coaching, but the emphasis is more on the one-on-one.
“So what we’ve done in term of the protocols, is we got permission from the City of Cape Town and the SAPS. Obviously there’s social protocols that need to be adhered to.
“We maintain distancing with regards to the nets, we also deep-santised all our facilities, we make sure that we sanitise our players hands and take their temperature. We have to be careful in terms of what we do with regards to this pandemic. But we also need to do what we can to make use of this window of opportunity.”
Despite the easing of some regulations, restrictions for community or grassroots sports remain unchanged, and these are still under lockdown.
Nantes Athletics Club chairman Leon Hendricks said, for the foreseeable future, they will continue with the “virtual” training methods they have been doing.
He said it was always going to be difficult to be on the road as a group and try to observe physical distancing at the same time.
“We can’t resume our normal training. We will just continue doing things individually, until such a time when we can fully go back to normal.”