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TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

Botswana Softball Association (BSA) National Executive Committee (NEC) is planning to declare the 2019/2020 BoFiNet Softball League null and void, Gazette Sport has learnt.

The softball league has been inactive for al-most five months due to measures that were introduced to curb the spread of the deadly COV-ID-19 pandemic earlier this year. At the time at which it was stopped, the BSA BoFiNet League was 50 percent complete in the Southern Region whereas teams in the Northern Region played 20 to 30 percent of their games.

Now, after months of hibernation, BSA feels the league cancellation is the best way to go. “We are still in talks with key stakeholders in order to declare the league null and void,” BSA vice president, Batsetswe Gontlafetse said in an interview. “As the NEC we feel it is the best way to go but we cannot make a final decision without engaging with other stakeholders like the clubs and Botswana National Sport Com-mission.” Gontlafetse did not divulge reasons why they want to declare the league null and void but rather stated all will be communicated after a final decision has been made.

Nevertheless, BSA Sport Development Officer (SDO) Tebogo Johannes told Gazette Sportlate last month that for softball to return to competitive events, all clubs have to comply with the COVID-19 regulations training manual set by the code.“It is worth noting that they have to comply with those regulations before they can also start with their training.” At the time, Johannes stated that only three clubs are compliant to the regulations.

Meanwhile, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in June published a set of health and operational recommendations for the safe return of baseball and softball activity. The precautionary measures and recommendations- named “Safe Return to Baseball/Softball – CO-VID-19 Prevention Guidelines” – have been developed by the WBSC Medical Commission in accordance with the World Health Organization’s risk assessment tool and “Considerations for sports federations/sports event organizers when planning mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19”.

Recommendations by WBSC specific to softball games, to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections include: avoidance of equipment sharing by players, batters retrieving their own bat when possible and players (in particular pitchers), avoidance to lick their fingers. Some of the recommendations include the cleaning of bases every half inning and keeping a minimum physical distance of one meter in the dugout. WBSC nevertheless encouraged National Federations, leagues and other baseball/softball entities to develop their own specific written policies and operating protocols in coordination with their respective local health authorities be-fore returning to competition.

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