Saving lives more important than finishing PSL season‚ says Pirates captain Jele

Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates.
Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele has said that the suspended Absa Premiership campaign could only continue if the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is fully contained.

South Africa is on day eight of the 21-day national lockdown that has suspended all non-essential services‚ with football adversely affected by its suspension and with no clear date for resumption.

“This coronavirus pandemic is a serious matter for the world and it is up to all of us to play our part in helping the government to fight it and ultimately eradicate it from our country‚” Jele said.

“Football is loved my many in our country‚ including myself‚ but what is important for us now is the lives of millions of people. Of course I would like to see the season completed at a later stage but for now our focus must be on working together to ensure that we contain the spread of this virus.

“The most important thing at the moment for everyone is to work together as citizens of this country to fight this virus.

“It will be nice to finish the season in a proper way with a champion‚ top eight and relegated teams after 30 matches. If you look at the log standings now‚ teams have not played the same number of games and that is going to make things very difficult if the season is not completed.”

Jele‚ is one of the longest-serving players in the league this season‚ admitted that he misses the hustle and bustle of day-to-day programmes during the season.

“It is true‚ I miss going out to train with my teammates and playing matches in front of our supporters but there is nothing one can do because we have this serious problem‚” he said.

“Our president Cyril Ramaphosa has issued an instruction that everyone‚ with the exception of essential service providers‚ must stay and home and we have to oblige.

“It is not easy to train at home with no competitive matches in-between but we have to support government efforts in fighting this virus.

“At the moment we don’t even know when football is going to return but we must keep training at home so that we are ready whenever we are called upon to complete the season.”

Jele went on to say that it takes discipline and commitment for footballers to train at home.

“We have never experienced something like this before but we must adjust because you can’t just sit at home and do nothing.

“At Pirates we do group sessions via video links with our fitness trainers and the motivation is there because all the players are involved. At the end of the day‚ everyone must be professional because this is our job and we have to remain fit.”