2020 will always be remembered as the year that the World came to a standstill due to a virus that infected and killed thousands of men woman and children. On the sporting front, every sport came to a standstill, Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Basketball and of course Snooker.
The Wanderers Main club closed when government issued a level 5 lockdown to contain and prepare the Health sector for the surge in infections and deaths amongst the SA population. Monthly since the initial level 5 and at the time of writing this article, moving to level 3, South Africa has seen the rate of infection climb as well as the number of deaths from the virus.
So as we get to Level 3, Government has maintained that sports clubs and sporting codes will not commence. Financially the bigger and more established federations that oversee the mainstream sports of soccer, rugby and cricket have felt the pinch, but not nearly as much as the smaller federations in the country such as the ones that oversee hockey and snooker.
At the end of March 2020, the Department of Sport, Art and Culture announced a relief fund to the tune of R150-million, which those in the sports and arts sectors could apply for and share.
However, the department’s criteria were very strict: “Only athletes who were confirmed to participate at events that have now been cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19 and whose income is generated solely through specific sporting events,” could apply.
The controlling snooker body South African Billiards and Snooker Association (SABSA) has cancelled all national events and as such so too has all the provincial associations.
Having spoken to many of the Wanderers Club snooker members, they miss the venue, Chariots bar and restaurant, and of course the snooker room. Having been spoilt with world-class facilities since the club was rebuilt after the devastating fire in 2004, most of the members have taken to reminiscing about past matches, tournaments on social media etc as if they have lost an old friend. For many this was the only place they could play snooker and with this harsh measure in place its been a long hard struggle, for some, worse than the current smokers and their cigarette dilemma!
Club captain Rafique Limbada who has been playing snooker competitively since 1993 says that in all these years he has only stopped playing competitive snooker once and that was in 1999, for the year, although he says he did play socially, this lockdown is more extreme in that one cannot visit the club or any other venue that has snooker tables and play a social match. And with snooker a sport that requires constant practice to be at the top of one’s game it is hard with the current lockdown.
But all is not lost, we ease towards Level 3 and Level 1 in the not too distant future, I urge all members to keep the faith, to have the belief, that we will once again visit and spend time at our home away from home, as so many of us see the wanderers club. That we will persevere, that we will emerge from this scary scenario that is COVID 19.
Internationally snooker will return albeit on our screens and that will bring some relief, the BetVictor Snooker Championship League commenced on the 1st of June in Leicester at the Morningside Arena.
My wish for everyone, Keep Safe, Keep Healthy, Keep Sanitizing and Keep to Social Distancing and remember it won’t be long till we all at the club again.