The senior women’s national football team captain, Bonang Bebeto Otlhagile, recently completed a 14-day self-isolation schedule for prevention and control of COVID-19. This followed her trip abroad for Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) whence she met with the tough regime upon her return. She has now joined the rest of the nation in the State of Emergency for 28 days.
She says life in isolation minus football was more painful than missing a penalty or scoring a last-minute own goal in a cup final. Otlhagile described how she left for Kenya for an administrative workshop with colleagues from FUB without thinking of the consequences. They left Botswana on 13 March and returned on the 16th instant.
“I was not aware that a formal and harmless football matter could land me in such a situation,” she told Gazette Sport days after soaking up her relative freedom. “I travelled with FUN’s Secretary General Kgosana Masaseng to Nairobi. A day after our return, we were called by a government official and told to go to Block 8 Clinic (in Gaborone) where we filled out forms and underwent testing. We were advised to go into self-isolation for the good of everyone, not least ourselves, because we could have been infected in Kenya or somewhere along the journey. It was nothing pleasant to hear but I knew it was necessary,” she stated.
“At any rate, as in football game, isolation demands and imposes discipline. I woke up alone in a separate room every day. I was separated even from my child whom I had left with her father. I cooked and ate alone in accordance with the restrictions. Our Secretary General, Masaseng, called me every day to encourage and pep me up. At first he was quite shaken but soon realised that he had to be strong for me. My family was very supportive and called me constantly and even reminded me of the hand washing routine. I have now joined the rest of the country in the State of Emergency. I am much better than I was the first time I was advised to go into self-isolation. After all, it was not long before I got used to such tough measures. I followed everything on social media and even thought of disconnecting because some of the stuff was really disturbing. It was as if they were referring to me. At some point I found myself scratching my whole body. It is not easy to be taking medication that you are not supposed to,” the captain continued.
“There were times that I cried but after getting the green light I was really relieved and started to have hope again. The truth of the matter is people who are in quarantine need counselling. The media should teach more about COVID-19 because some people don’t take this deadly disease seriously enough. If you’re not strong enough, you can take your own life when told to go into self-isolation. My advice to footballers and the nation at large is to keep washing their hands with clean water and soap all the time. If you do not have a sanitiser, wash your hands and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Practise social distancing of around one metre from each other during this period and wear a mask and gloves when in public,” Otlhagile concluded.