COVID-19: Why children playing football in open field is unsafe

MANY schools are closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19. In this article by SADE OGUNTOLA, experts explain why the youth should shun playing matches on open fields, empty roads and school fields and embrace indoor activities to fill the void.

CHILDREN are typically attracted to playing outdoors and there are numerous benefits to encourage it. An outdoor activity like playing football allows them to explore their surroundings, improve muscle strength and coordination and achieve self-esteem.

For the  youth, football is an essential part of daily living. Despite the COVID-19 lockdown which is to stop the spread of the disease, many youths are using the lockdown to play football on open fields, empty roads and school fields to fill the void.

But, football pitches just as shared toys, phones and sports equipment are unsafe during COVID-19 pandemic. Experts emphasised that coronavirus can stick around on surfaces for a long time.  In a recent New England Journal of Medicine study, they found out that it takes 72 hours for the virus to become undetectable on plastic, about 48 hours on stainless steel and cardboard, and eight hours on copper. Fine droplets between one and five micrometers in size – about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair – can remain airborne for several hours in still air.

Even if social distancing is practiced on the playground as they constantly move from one part of the playground to another, they’re still touching the same surfaces as all the other people and are quite prone to touching their faces — nose, eyes, etc, at intervals.

Professor Georgina Odaibo, Head, Department of Virology, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan declared that  when children stepped  outside their homes; be it  to the playgrounds or open fields, they get  to mix with other people.  Like many respiratory viruses, including flu, COVID-19 can be spread in tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they cough. A single cough could produce up to 3,000 droplets. These particles could land on other people, clothing and surfaces around them, but some of the smaller particles could remain in the air.

Concern about coronavirus (COVID-19) is high, but the risk for serious illness to children is still possible. So far, most reported cases of coronavirus have been in adults. Children who do get it seem to have milder infections than adults or older people.

Even so, the virus particles coughed or sneezed out could be on other familiar scenes in public places– door handles, the goalposts, fabric seats of commercial vehicles and motorcycles, office desks, light switches, remote controls, toilet, books and files. So it is better assumed that everything outside the home is potentially contaminated.

According to her, “you don’t know where they are coming from, you don’t know who those ones had been with, so the possibility of the transmission of the coronavirus in such public gathering is high.

Professor Odaibo said especially now, it is better that the youth limit their play to those within their household to reduce the possibility of contracting the infection.

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She added, “they do not understand the importance of social distancing. The situation is like when we talk about the use of a condom, we say proper use. If you don’t use it properly, you don’t expect the best out of it. So, they should learn to stay at home as much as possible.”

Professor Christian Happi, Director, African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University said compliance with the stay at home orders are important to prevent community transmission of the virus.

He added, “Our people are basically taking this for granted and thinking that it is something for others. The thinking is that we have all the time, the problem is for others and when that thing happens, we start screaming and calling on God. The reality is the earlier, we do it, the better.”

Even so, the World Health Organization and other health authorities have emphasised that both washing of one’s hands and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily are key in preventing COVID-19’s spread.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, keep the game alive at home especially for football-loving children and encourage them to engage in recreative activities such as the following:

  • Play e-Football pro evolution soccer 2020 game: These video games are an ideal alternative to the real thing when it comes to football. Children can even play this online with their friends.
  • Watch classic football matches online: it is perhaps an opportune time to look back on classic games from years gone by. For instance, FIFA is making a selection of memorable World Cup matches available to watch for free on its YouTube channel, while uefa.tv is showing classic Euros and Champions League ties.
  • Family football game: A kick about in an enclosed backyard is fun for the entire family. It also affords move with a perfect pass. It could serve as a sort of release for those who had regularly played football.
  • Colour or draw favourite footballers: This is a wonderful and creative way to keep children occupied, especially if they enjoy arts and crafts and particularly when they are forced to remain indoors. Blank outlines of footballers are available online and they can be easily printed out.
  • Watch football movies: There are plenty of football movies or documentary to watch such as Cristiano Ronaldo’s life in the 2015 documentary Ronaldo or tribulations of English club, Sunderland, in Sunderland during the coronavirus lockdown to pass a couple of hours.
  • Play football Manager: This is a football management simulation game and it’s available on a personal computer, tablet and mobile phone. It offers a chance to take control of their favourite team, set up the tactics and pick the team, as well as sign players, interact with the media and more. It is one of the best ways for football fans to kill time.
  • Read football books: For avid fans of the game, turning to football books to read about the game’s biggest stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez can help to pass the time. For those who are more visually inclined, the Illustrated History of Football could be worth acquiring.
  • Table football: This classic football game, also known as table soccer, is worth playing and it does not need space somewhere to place the table. People of all age groups can enjoy this spectacular game together. The aim of the game is to move the ball into the opponent’s goal by manipulating rods which has figures attached.
  • Play table tennis: Table Tennis is an action-packed, highly-competitive sport that is extremely rewarding when it is played diligently. It is widely known for the quick reaction time and flexibility it teaches. Since it is a fast-paced game, it also demands great mental concentration in analysing and responding to opponents moves in real-time.
  • Monopoly: Monopoly games have been entertaining families since 1935, and people love the roller-coaster ride to success. It teaches about spending wisely and the need to have the cash to meet obligations but having too much cash is also bad.
  • Card games: Card games have been around for a long time. They’ve existed in various forms for a millennium, having been invented in the Far East. Countless card games exist, including families of related games (such as poker).

*Scrabble: This is a board game that might increase a child’s vocabulary, and so build writing and reading skills. It is played with small white “tiles”. Each tile has a letter of the alphabet on it, and tells the value of that letter is placed on the board. Scrabble, is a one-word game that can be played at anytime, anywhere.

 

 

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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