Uganda: CHAN Success Will Breathe Life Into 'Project Restart'

23 January 2021

The world is in terrible times, with the prospect of returning back to normalcy still uncertain, we need to dream for better days ahead. The globe needs a unifier and source of hope. That could be sports. As Nelson Mandela once said, "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire."

When the Africa Nations Championship's first batch of group games successfully completed on Tuesday without any hitches, it heaved a sigh of relief that things will soon return to normal.

The Championship, reserved for local-based players, was originally scheduled for April last year but postponed to this year making it the first senior international tournament to take place since the pandemic hit early last year.

Unlike the ugly scenes witnessed during Caf Champions, Confederations cup, and Afcon qualifiers where teams were forced to play with fewer players and other matches cancelled, there have been no major incidents and positive cases reported thus far from the bubbles in Cameroon.

That breathes life into the 'project restart' and will, if the situation remains under control, be used as a yardstick for several upcoming major tournaments, a remarkable achievement that sports will build on.

"I am happy to have witnessed the kick-off of the first international tournament of the year; the first national team games," Fifa president Gianni Infantino said after attending the opening ceremony and match last weekend.

Ray of hope

Due to the strict health restrictions, Caf decided to admit only 25 percent of fans of each stadium's capacity in the groups' stage and will later increase to 50 percent as the tournament ages. This, Infantino adds, will give hope that things will go back to normal this year.

"The stadium was beautiful during the opening day though it was not full because of Covid-19 restrictions but still 25 percent of the capacity [fans] was there," the Fifa supremo said.

"It gave it a nice ambiance and atmosphere. It is important to show to the world that we can organise such games in Africa to give hope to all the countries all over the world that the year 2021 will hopefully see normality come back including in football."

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