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Algeria urges discipline, says government able to counter coronavirus
1 April 2020, 9:27 PM

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday urged citizens to be “disciplined” to help overcome the coronavirus outbreak even as the number of cases and deaths rose.

Tebboune said on state television that the government is still able to handle the situation despite a fall in energy earnings, the main source of state finances.

OPEC member Algeria earlier this month decided to cut public spending by 30%, halve planned energy investment for this year to $7 billion and delay some social and economic projects after the coronavirus caused a sharp fall in global oil prices.

“You must be disciplined. We lack discipline,” Tebboune said. “People must respect preventive measures and doctors’ advice.”

Some Algerians have ignored steps taken by the government to limit the spread of the virus including a night curfew in 10 provinces and a full lockdown in the Bilda area, south of the capital Algiers.

The government will spend $100 million to import equipment including 100 million masks from China in addition to a local production of 90,000 masks per day.

“We have enough capabilities to cope with the crisis,” Tebboune said. “Regarding food, we have stocks for at least five months. There is no reason to panic.”

Algerians have rushed to buy staple foods, including semolina and flour, in large proportions since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, causing shortages in some provinces.

Algeria will next week extend the closure of schools, universities and mosques, Tebboune said.

Bantwana captain admits lockdown break a challenge for the team
1 April 2020, 9:12 PM

The South African U-17 Women’s National Team captain Jessica Wade says the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is a double challenge for her and her young peers, adding it will take concerted hard work and discipline from them to juggle between school and the national team once everything is back to normality.

A Grade 11 learner at Waterstone College on the South of Johannesburg, Wade says she is using the break to study rigorously whilst working hard to maintain fitness too.

In the audio below, Wade explains:

Wade concedes the break couldn’t have come at a bad time for Bantwana as it has now disrupted their momentum following their recent exploits.

They beat Zambia 3-2 on aggregate a fortnight ago to progress to the next round of the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers and their next assignment was meant to be the Under 17 Cosafa Cup in Mauritius from the 17th – 26th of April, which has since been postponed.

Wade nevertheless trusts they will pick up where they left off.

The victory earned Bantwana a spot in the final round of the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to be staged in India, as they joined four other teams – Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana.

Wade says her club, Janine Van Wyk (JVW) FC, has put together a series of online training regimes and activities for them to keep fit as the country goes through a lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

It remains to be seen what decisions will be put in place by the football powers post the lockdown.

Whilst admitting she isn’t a fan of playing behind closed doors, Wade urges the game leaders to thread carefully when implementing whatever decisions they will settle on. – Report by Tumi Gabonamong


World Bank approves delayed $500 million education loan to Tanzania
1 April 2020, 7:22 PM

The World Bank has approved a $500 million education loan to Tanzania after years of delays because of concerns about the country’s policy of banning pregnant students from public schools.

The World Bank froze $1.7 billion in loans to Tanzania in 2018 following both the pregnant student ban and a law making it illegal to question official statistics. It started releasing funds again to the East African country last September.

The terms of the loan, which is designed to improve secondary school access, give pregnant students – who were forced to drop out – a chance to complete their schooling through alternative public education programs, the World Bank said late on Tuesday.

President John Magufuli announced the pregnant student ban in 2017, drawing harsh criticism from activists and donors.

The World Bank, Tanzania’s biggest external lender, says about 5,500 pregnant girls drop out of school every year.

Foreign loans and grants are a key source of foreign exchange for East Africa’s third-largest economy.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe, who had previously asked the World Bank to withhold the loan until it was more inclusive, lauded campaigners and the terms of the loan on Twitter.

Still, some activists emphasized there was a lot more work to be done.

“I was expecting the World Bank to push for re-entry of banned teenage mothers in public schools, period,” said Carol Ndosi, a womens’ advocate. But, until then, this was a step in the right direction, Ndosi said.

Leverkusen players agree pay cut amid virus pandemic
1 April 2020, 7:01 PM

Bayer Leverkusen players, staff and management on Wednesday unanimously agreed to accept an unspecified pay cut as the Bundesliga remains suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim later followed suit, with club bosses saying success for the small club in recent years had created a cushion and it was now time to give something back.

Hoffenheim are financially supported by billionaire major investor Dietmar Hopp.

Leverkusen captain Lars Bender said discussions had taken place in the last few weeks and on Tuesday they reached an agreement.

The two clubs join several others in the Bundesliga to have agreed pay cuts, including Borussia Moenchengladbach and Schalke 04.

“The (Leverkusen) team is ready to waive part of the salaries in order to support the club in its efforts to financially overcome the corona crisis,” Bender said in a club statement following a makeshift training session where players trained only in pairs.

Team training cannot resume before April 5.

“We again got a very concrete idea in the empty BayArena stadium today about how important the various colleagues are in breathing life into the club and how important each and every one of them is in providing us with ideal conditions to do our job.”

Play in the Bundesliga has been suspended since mid-March and the German Football League (DFL) on Tuesday extended the league suspension until at least April 30.

The DFL has also indicated that should play resume in the coming weeks or months it would likely be without spectators.

Other major clubs in Spain and Italy, including heavyweights Juventus and Barcelona, have also had pay cuts for their players. England’s Premier League clubs are under mounting pressure to follow that example.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) are in talks with the Premier League over how best to deal with the current suspension of competition, but the moves by some clubs to use the government’s furlough scheme has prompted sharp criticism.

Tottenham Hotspur have reduced salaries of non-playing staff by 20% while players at Championship (second-tier) leaders Leeds United have volunteered to take a wage deferral.

Preventative medicine to take priority, says Dr Tswaane
1 April 2020, 6:44 PM

Baroka FC team doctor Happy Tswaane believes this period of coronavirus (COVID-19) will change the medical landscape for many clubs in South Africa.

Doctor Tswaane also believes it is because the sector has not been given the attention it deserved in football.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) suspended league action indefinitely earlier last month for social distancing that helps in curbing the spread of the virus.

Dr Tswaane says preventative medicine is going to take priority and the level of hygiene will also change.

It is not a secret that not all clubs governed by the PSL have strong medical teams while some do not have any at all. Dr Tswaane adds that this is also going to change and it will not just be a numbers game but also medically trained personnel.

This is the fourth week that domestic action has been halted and Dr Tswaane says sports physicians’ worries are how athletes are training and rehabilitating from injuries on their own.

Dr Tswaane adds that discipline of athletes during the lockdown will be put to a test. Dr Tshwane was asked the time it takes for active athletes to get back to their fitness peak and he says it takes the same amount of days off to train and get back to full fitness.

Dr Tswaane has been with Bakgaga since their First Division days. He adds that an athlete’s lifestyle is another contributor to them performing at their best. – Report by Lethabo Kganyago



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