by TINTSWALO BALOYI
POLOKWANE – AUTHORITIES in Limpopo have warned individuals organising amateur football tournaments in the province, in contravention of the lockdown against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, to desist forthwith or face the wrath of the law.
Thandi Moraka, the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Sport, Arts and Culture, bemoaned the trend, which she blamed on communities’ frustration at the lengthy period without such competitions.
Such encounters are popular at grassroots level, especially during annual holidays.
A lockdown imposed almost five months ago has prohibited sporting activities, leaving communities in Limpopo province disillusioned.
“Everything has been put on hold. We cannot continue with those activities. You find that communities are taking it upon themselves to organise illegal tournaments,” Moraka said.
“Those are issues that show that indeed our people are hungry for our services, but there is nothing much we can do. We can only encourage our people to refrain from arranging those illegal gatherings (competitions).”
She said the priority of the national government now was to preserve lives.
“So, anyone who is organising illegal football matches and netball matches must know they are violating the regulations and they will be on the wrong side of the law,” Moraka warned.
She forewarned culprits of the dire penalties.
“You (culprits) are likely to be charged exorbitant amounts. If you fail to pay that amount, you are going to spend 12 months in prison,” Moraka said.
“So, as the custodian of sport, we encourage our people to refrain from engaging in such activities because once the police or law enforcement agencies find them having organized such tournaments, they will have difficulty justifying this with the courts of law.”
Moraka was speaking in the provincial capital, Polokwane, where her department monitored local Premiership teams’ compliance with COVID-19 health measures ahead of the league resumption in Gauteng
She reiterated the message recently by the South African Football (SAFA) that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) – comprising the Absa Premiership and Glad Africa Championship- was the only entity permitted to resume the beautiful game.
“They have been allowed to resume on the basis that they follow strict health measures so that we don’t expose our players to COVID-19,” the MEC explained.
Last week, SAFA issued a reminder that sport within amateur ranks remained suspended until the government advised otherwise.
The reminder came after a young footballer in the Eastern Cape passed away while playing the game.
– CAJ News