Around the world we’re dealing with COVID-19. That has an impact on all our daily lives, workplaces and communities. And also brings uncertainty around projects and programmes in the weeks and months to come. Like us, organisations are facing big challenges and this asks for revised plans and expectations including necessary health measures and social distancing. However, we’re also mobilising everyone involved within Hockey Dreams and keep the positive spirit alive. We asked 3 of our coaches to write about what’s on their mind. Here is the story of Benjamin Chaura.
The coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill. Malawi being one of the poorest countries is hit hard even though only 43 cases and 3 deaths were confirmed so far. The Hockey Dreams Foundation is not spared at all, as all programs are on hold with no prospect of short-term changes.
How I am dealing with coronavirus within my team of coaches?
The impact of the virus within the Hockey Dreams-community is very big and we have to postpone all our programs. All schools are closed which means all our players are now at home. This change is very challenging for us because now we are incapable of coaching our players at schools, camps and in communities. Our players have been affected so much.
That being said, we are now using this challenge to create something positive out of it. Coaches are practicing in their own backyards to stay fit. Secondly, coaches are working on their personal development plan that keeps them busy at most times. We are also promoting social interaction amongst the coaching through social media. For example: our meetings are now being held through WhatsApp to promote distancing.
The effect of coronavirus on our kids
The kids are meeting the biggest challenge yet as the coaches had built a strong team spirit between them and the moral was very high. The day we were imposed to suspend all our social gatherings was the day we would have had our first camp of the year and the turn up was huge. It was very sad to inform the kids that the camp was postponed until further notice. The news was very devastating for them as all were geared for camp. I have summed up other consequences of the virus:
- The kids cannot visit us – the coaches – anymore which can be severe because they are now more likely to get involved in matters that might harm them.
- Kids are impacted psychologically as they are spending more time within the confinement of their homes and cannot properly focus on their schoolwork.
- It is hard for us to monitor our kids and parents are allowing them to go outside of their homes.
- Kids coming from the slums are loitering within their districts which is dangerous because they are prone to the virus and they are also prone to exploitation. In the slums sexual harassment and other physical abuse are very common. Hockey and school prevents them from these dangers.
- Our kids cannot access the hockey equipment for practicing. This can make them forgot and lose interest in the game of hockey.
The actions taken by Malawi’s government
The government had already been proactive when the news about the pandemic came in, considering it took a long time before the first case was reported in the country. Schools are closed and bans on social- and religious gatherings are imposed. Sporting events and flights are suspended too.
People are very cautious in their day-to-day living and most companies and organisations have instructed their employees to work from home. Non-necessary travels are limited and people are taking precautionary measures to prevent contracting and spreading the virus, such as:
- Washing hands regularly.
- Using hand sanitiser after washing.
- Handshakes and hugs are prevented.
- Limiting the number of people in gatherings, such as weddings and funerals.
The economic impact of the coronavirus in Malawi
Covid-19 has been declared a global pandemic and is affecting many economies throughout the world. Some of the potential economic repercussions that may affect Malawi are:
- Disturbance in trade links with the rest of the world.
- Direct export problems.
- Fiscal pressure is rising because of higher expected spending in the health sector by the government.
- Tourism – one of the priority growing sectors in Malawi – has been affected. People are not allowed to cross borders. Tourists who visit our country bring in foreign currency, which helps in the growth and stability of the country’s economy.
What is life after Covid-19?
Everyone is debating on when the pandemic is going to be over, but will it be over? Will our lives be back to normal? We are all looking forward to this moment and we are eagerly awaiting news in regard to a vaccin.
For our hockey lives the timing could not be any worse. We had just completed the construction of the first artificial pitch in the country and we were about to open the stadium for us to start playing hockey. Everyone was excited and looking forward to this moment but now we are all at our homes. We are still looking forward to opening and playing but the hype around the happening has obviously faded.
We are looking forward to everything to be back to normal, although we know that life will never be back to where it was before the pandemic. People now know that handshakes and hugs are not the only way of greeting each other. Personal hygiene like washing hands has become part of our lives and is now a priority. Life has changed, whether for good or bad, and life will never be the same again.