25 August 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the footballing world, none more so than at amateur level. There has fortunately been positive signs with various leagues and European competitions resuming proceedings, albeit with no fans in attendance.

Locally though, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has only just returned while lower leagues are still on hold. There are various reasons for this and Local Football Associations (LFAs) are trying to remain upbeat.

SAFA.net had the opportunity to chat to prominent Phoenix LFA President, Mr Desmond Ganesan, who shared his thoughts on the lockdown period, lack of action and challenges faced.

On how the pandemic has affected the LFA in general, Ganesan lamented the past few months.

“The lack of footballing action in our community has had players, coaches and administrators at a loss as it is something that is out of our control. We have been at a standstill. My concern is that fans have lost interest and won’t return. Obviously safety concerns are at the heart of this. Unfortunately LFAs have minimal infrastructure and funds to purchase safety and sanitizing equipment and ensure that proper protocols are adhered to,” said Ganesan.

Teams and players are the ones who have suffered the most and there have been multiple challenges in this regard.

“Sport is our livelihood. Apart from the loyal supporters, one has to feel for the teams and players. Health and fitness has taken a knock. Gyms have also been closed. What happens when football returns and players aren’t match-ready? Also, many have lost jobs and income. At a certain point, putting food on the table takes precedence over sport,” added the President.

However, the LFA head is still positive about what lies ahead.

“Look, this year should be written off but the ultimate goal is for things to return to normal in 2021. The key is for LFAs to work closely with SAFA regional, provincial and national. Without grassroots football we will be in trouble as a soccer nation so putting our heads together to come up with solutions and strategies is key, especially in terms of health and safety. I have every faith that we can accomplish this. Let us all simply keep positive. Amateur football will survive,” concluded Ganesan.