What long term effect will Covid-19 leave on school sport?
In short nobody really knows the impact that not playing sport for a year will have on a school athlete. Most will agree though that the result cannot be positive in the short term.
Expected Drop off on Interest in School Sport
Even if school sport resumes in all its glory in 2021, many suspect the standard of play will be affected for the worse.
For example, a 2020 Grade 8 U14 rugby player will suddenly find himself playing U15 rugby in 2021. The last time he would have played rugby was in primary school as an U13. That is a huge jump to make and underlines why some are expecting a dip in the level of competition.
Contact without the Contact
Add to that the many players who have been attracted to ‘’lockdown friendly’’ sports like golf, and others who have dropped out of main stream schooling to pursue home-schooling and we could see a lacklustre interest in traditional team sports that seem to have been hardest hit by the virus shutdown.
Earlier this week the Basic Education Department, which ultimately overseers school sport, announced that contact sport like soccer and rugby could resume with immediate effect with a caveat. There must be no contact!
Department spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga stated that :
… “contact sport training may resume…provided that all social distancing, hygiene and safety measures are observed and that there is no physical contact between participants during training.”
Although it is a move in the right direction, how coaches and players will train and practice for a contact sport without any contact will be a challenge. Effectively this means that no rugby or soccer matches can be played at present.
However, the green light has been given for schools to compete in inter-school matches provided the spectators are limited to 250 for an indoor match and 500 for an outdoor activity. All are expected to wear masks expect for those playing in the matches.
Many will agree that 2020 must go down as the worse year for school sport and we can only hope that the passion and energy that has driven school sport will flourish in 2021. The sooner school sport restrictions are lifted the sooner we can all look forward to a normal year full of the purest form of sport.