Football, you might have noticed, has screeched to a halt. It took a while, even with the rest of the world crippled by the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, but the game’s resolve to trudge on in defiance could only stretch so far.
Half of the 2019/20 Uefa Champions League’s Round of 16 ties remain undecided, major international competitions have been postponed, leagues — big and small — are suspended and, around the world, fans endure weeks and weekends stripped of their usual footie flourish.
Still, these need their fix — such is football’s addictive hold on our lives — and, thankfully, the sport’s wheels keep turning in the virtual world. The FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer video games have been go-to alternatives for many, but even more have turned to the social media accounts of their favorite clubs for comfort and a more realistic experience.
For the clubs, despite suffering financially from the COVID-19 outbreak, the ensuing hiatus presents an opportunity to connect properly with fans to an extent that might not have been possible with a full roster of fixtures on hand. There’s a void that needs filling, a hunger begging to be satiated, and that call has been heeded by some of the more digitally vibrant European sides in many ways: digging into the archives, a throwback here and there, quizzes, regular updates on what/how their players are doing away from the pitch, etc.
It’s not the real thing or exactly what fans signed up for, of course, but — in such a time of drought and idleness — anything that keeps the juices flowing would do. Ghanaian clubs, however, haven’t been as active. The Ghana Premier League is also frozen after just 15 game-weeks, in compliance with the government’s order for the suspension of all sporting activities to help contain the local spread of COVID-19, but there is little on social media to lubricate the cogs of a season that was only just gathering momentum.
The #GPLGoalChain challenge, initiated by Dreams FC days ago, is steadily catching on; beyond that (and short videos exhorting fans to take precautionary measures), however, most clubs aren’t up to much, seemingly content with sitting around till normalcy returns. Rather than merely mark time and count the days, though, they can ensure that the little love and goodwill built over the first few months of the current campaign isn’t eroded by the time COVID-19 eases/releases its grip.
It’s the least they could do.
NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH