Dynamos, Highlanders fight Covid-19

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Sports Reporter
PREMIERSHIP giants Dynamos and Highlanders have come together to use their influence to fight stigma that may be associated with those who would have contracted coronavirus.

Dubbed “Covid-19 Anti-stigma campaign”, the two domestic football powerhouses’ players and coaches will be urging support instead of discrimination against victims of coronavirus.

The Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), a multi-donor programme which is leading the campaign, has engaged DeMbare and Bosso after recognising the power that the country’s biggest sport — football — has in uniting the nation.

“We decided to partner with sports personalities in our anti-stigma campaign, as we found the local teams were extremely passionate about serving their communities and were looking for ways to get involved in the Covid-19 response, so it really was a natural fit.

“These sports personalities have built credibility over many years with their audience, so can reach Zimbabweans in an impactful way to get this important message across,’’ said Aaron Sundsmo, Team Leader of the Resilience Knowledge Hub at ZRBF.

“The Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) is a multi-donor programme managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-funded by the European Union (EU), the Embassy of Sweden, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Denmark. The lead implementing partner of ZRBF is the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Resettlement (MLAWRR).

“ZRBF seeks to improve the resilience of about 830 000 people through the generation and use of evidence to inform programming and policy; projects building capacities to absorb, adapt to, and transform livelihoods and systems to reduce risks at the individual, household, community, ward, district and province levels; and a challenge modifier that enables early action in response to early warning of problems in order to protect the development gains of the programme.

“Seven ZRBF consortia operate in 18 districts of Zimbabwe to build the resilience of individuals, households, communities and systems,’’ Sundsmo said.

The ZRFB has already released video clips in which Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya and Bosso skipper and goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda speak against Covid-19 stigmatisation or ill-treatment of those affected by the disease.

Ndiraya and Sibanda said discriminating against those affected by Covid-19 could lead them into shunning medical assistance and even dissuade some people from being tested.

“If we discriminate, some people will be scared of getting medical help. It also puts people under stress, when they need our support the most. Stigma also prevents us from getting correct information, which is what we need to fight the disease together.

“It is sad that Covid-19 has disrupted the season. But it’s a time to focus on protecting our health. Football will be back. For now, it’s time to keep safe. The sooner we defeat the virus by following health instructions, the sooner we can get back to the game.

“How can we as sports personalities support the #SolidarityNotStigma campaign?

“In football, we know that you need your supporters more when you are down. It’s the same with Covid-19. We must support each other. We should make sure that everyone knows that Covid-19 is nobody’s fault.

“We have seen from all over the world that even sports personalities are not immune to this virus. So Covid-19 affects sports personalities and their fans too. So there is no need to discriminate against those affected because all of us can be affected. Coaches can be affected, players too, and also the fans. So we need solidarity, not stigma.

“If we know anyone who has been affected, let’s give them all the recommended support,’’ the duo said.