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Leagues to restart June 13

LIMITED fans will be allowed into the venues as the Tanzania Premier League Board (TPLB) has set June 13th this year as the official date for the resumption of the three football leagues in the country to finish the current season.

The leagues which have been cleared to start on the day are the Mainland Premier League, First Division League (FDL) and Second Division League (SDL) respectively.

Tanzania is among the few countries in the world which have decided to continue the league season despite the ongoing threat of Covid-19 pandemic, which led other nations to cancel their respective league seasons.

However, this restart date has come with sets of safety rules issued jointly by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports together with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.

A joint statement released on Thursday signed by Ministers Harrison Mwakyembe (sports) and Ummy Mwalimu (health) contains detailed strategies that will help to curb Coronavirus spread once the respective leagues resume.

Some of the guidelines include mandatory Covid-19 tests on players and officials, temperature tests will also be put in place regularly and should be supervised by qualified medical experts.

Players and officials travelling in team buses will be required to ensure they sit far enough apart on the way to the stadium.

Other measures include committing stadium managements, sports associations and federations to install facilities that will allow putting in place running water and soap as well as sanitisers, while ensuring everyone who is involved use them before entering the venues.

Opening entry gates early will also be mandatory, so as to avoid overcrowding and allow fans maintain a one metre distance, while entering the venue, seating arrangement should also adhere to one metre distance.

Everyone not on the pitch -- fans, team officials, journalists and all other stakeholders involved would be required to wear face masks throughout when at the venue and club officials will be required to make sure that their players use sanitizers or running water with soap before and after the training/match.

And, goal celebrations should not involve hugging, and more boot bumping will be allowed, while hand shake and exchange of jerseys will strictly be prohibited.

Substitutes sitting on the benches should stay a metre apart to observe social distancing and wore masks, until they begin to warm up.

Players coming off the pitch will be handed a mask. On safeguarding spectators, who normally turns out to witness matches at pubs, bars and local kiosks popularly known as ‘vibanda umiza’ the government has directed local government officers to make close supervision to ensure social distancing and all safety measures are observed.

TPLB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Almas Kasongo said preparation measures to reignite the league are progressing and the fixture will be released tomorrow.

“We met this morning (Thursday) and agreed to declare June 13th as the date to flag off the three leagues,” he said.

“On Sunday (tomorrow), we will also update the public on the playing format of the leagues as to whether the usual home and away system will be applied or embrace the one proposed by the government of using Dar es Salaam and Mwanza as centres."

He added that TPLB already wrote all teams which trade in the mentioned leagues to start training sessions hence he has no doubt that they are progressing well with their training programmes.

“We insist on the clubs to thoroughly observe all necessary precaution measures to avoid contacting the Covid-19 disease, while doing their sport activities,” he said.

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