Athletes stop play to contain Covid-19 in Lyari
Join hands with local govt to raise awareness about pandemic precautions
KARACHI: More than 50 football clubs of Lyari, as well as members of the locality's community centres, have joined hands with the district administration in the fight against the coronavirus and containing its spread in the old city neighbourhood.
The initiative came in the wake of Lyari residents continuing to flout lockdown instructions and paying little heed to officials' requests to stay home.
Speaking with regards to this two-pronged strategy adopted by the district administration to curb the virus' spread in Lyari, South deputy commissioner Irshad Ahmed Sodhar said that sportspersons would encourage youngsters to maintain social distancing and pandemic guidelines, while jamaat khana [community centre] members would convince the elders.
"We have adopted this multi-pronged strategy to keep people safe from the virus," he added.
Besides, the district administration has set up over two dozen portable washing drums at different spots to help people understand the importance of maintaining hygiene.
In a meeting held in this regard on Saturday, representatives of the football clubs assured district administration officials of their complete support, also agreeing not to hold any night matches during Ramazan this year, as has been a tradition in the past.
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"We want to play matches after the lockdown [is lifted]," Muhammad Ishaq - a footballer from Lyari who, along with his teammates, has been actively trying to convince people to stay home through video messages - told The Express Tribune. "We need to be healthy to play football. If we are ailing, we wouldn't be able to play well."
Referring to his appeals of staying home, which were being circulated among the residents of Lyari, Ishaq said he wanted to convey similar messages to the residents of other areas as well.
Appreciating the initiative, Salman Khatri, a resident of Agra Taj Colony, noted that local sportspersons were also involved in community awareness drives being conducted in the neighbourhood.
Emphasising the importance of involving the local community in stemming the virus spread, Khatri opined that the government should have taken the step earlier. "Without the involvement of people from the local community, Lyari's people won't pay much heed to the government's requests and instructions," he elaborated. "The locals will better be able to convince people [to observe precautions, as] otherwise it is tricky to deal with [the resident of] Lyari. Here, people listen only to their own people, not the government."
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Khatri advised that not just footballers, but other sportspersons, such as cyclists, boxers and cricketers, also be made a part of the fight against the coronavirus.
The sharp spread of the contagion in the locality has, by and large, done little to move the people of Lyari towards being more mindful of precautionary measures. Rather, they complain that patrolling by law enforcement personnel has increased in the area and that they are being forced to stay inside. The residents also complain of shops being forcible closed.
"Fear prevails in the neighbourhood but people continue to stay outdoors, which is dangerous for everyone," lamented Khatri.