Gaborone — University of Botswana's psychologist, Ms Emma July has encouraged netball coaches and facilitators to assist players with first aid psychology to help them cope with COVIOD-19.
She said as managers, the players' psychological preparedness for the new normal was in their hands.
Ms July was speaking in an interview after an assessment session with the senior and Under-21 Botswana Netball Association (BONA) national teams' players, held at Botswana National Sports Commission on July 11.
The assessment, she said, was done to assist the association determine how players were affected by the pandemic.
She said what could generally be drawn from the assessment was that athletes were overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
Ms July said no matter how affected the players were, they had to re-adjust their training programmes and resort to self-motivation.
"At times a player's best counsellor and psychologist is the player themselves. They should remind themselves of why they joined sports in the first place and take pride in their achievements.
She said players without other sources of income apart from sports were likely to be the most affected because without play, there was no income.
BONA president, Malebo Raditladi said the assessment would help them have a true record of the impact of COVID-19 without having to make assumptions.
This, she said, would also help them plan their activities well, knowing what they were facing and the pace at which they could go about everything that concerned players.
Under-21 mid-court player, Omphemetse Letebele said her mental health was still threatened as she was still trying to make sense of a netball match, where players were not supposed to contact one another.
She said netball was greatly affected because many competitions were cancelled and cross-border movement restricted.
"For the very first time, I was selected to be part of the team that was going to represent Botswana in Uganda, May this year. The pandemic robbed me of a lifetime opportunity that I will never get again," she said.
The 19-year-old player explained that her age would not allow her to participate in the next round of competitions, adding that she was part of the team during Botswana games in December 2017 and was looking forward to represent the country at continental level.
Apart from playing netball, Letebele is part of Tlhako traditional dance troupe, which means that all her means of income are on hold since all contact activities are still restricted.
"I wish BONA could assist us find other means of income since most of us are not working. I for one was traumatised by this pandemic to an extent that I did not learn any new skill or pursue a hidden talent," she said.
She said difficult as it was, the association and continental affiliates should start planning how to make up for missed opportunities, more especially for those who had only one chance to be part of some competitions.
"Everyone in sport is feeling the impact of COVID-19. Events and competitive seasons at all sport and entertainment levels are being canceled and training facilities are closed. Athletes, coaches, parents, and stakeholders are under pressure to develop emergency plans, but still players are expecting a winning comeback plan for everyone" she said.
Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), administration officer, who is also a senior team player, Francinah Eyman, however, said athletes should learn to build mental or physical capacity to accommodate situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the pandemic came as a blessing in disguise for her as she had an injury to heal from.
Eyman said that being home to heal without having to worry about going back to the field soon was comforting for her.
She said despite having been away from her family and wondering how they were coping, more especially during lockdown, she chose to look on the positive side of the impact.
"After having the assessment session I figured that we should not be scared of what the future holds for us, if anything we should be hopeful that all will be well in due time," she said.
She said it was important to not solely rely on sports for a living, but engage in businesses and anything else that could help one with finances.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>