Opinion

'Now is the time' - Fozz urges sporting circles to 'play for lives, not points'

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With grassroots and semi-professional football rightly shut down, now is the time to put the game at the service of the Australian community.

FFA chief executive James Johnson and the committee formed by the State Federations to manage the COVID-19 issue today acted to bring a halt to all grassroots football.

We are all going to be affected in some way by this catastrophe but shutting down all non-essential services, and sport is one of course, will at least limit the impact and ensure that the least number of lives are put at risk.

Questions remain around the professional game. The health of every person comes first, and there is ample concern to stop playing immediately.

Given this, how should we respond as a game and an industry that has been preparing for the coming season and will now not go ahead for at least a month?

To put ourselves at the service of our community and turn our clubs into volunteer hubs for social good - that's how.

Instead of playing for points, let us ‘play for lives’ and demonstrate the power of sport to bring us all together for the common good.

FFA has very rightly pointed out that as the nation’s most played sport, we have an obligation to act both responsibly and proactively, as our impact can be vast, so let us truly leverage our numbers for good even while so much is uncertain.

By partnering with NGOs (non-profit organisations) with on ground experience in distribution of necessary goods such as food, medicine and, yes, even toilet paper, football can use our vast numbers for good.

I’d like to see all sports join and create a volunteer army that would ease the anxiety, fear and pain of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Australians.

If the secretary at each of the thousands of football clubs nationally could spend a few hours coordinating with a central sport-for-good hub, and every team had one or two players put their hand up to deliver essential goods to the elderly, sick and isolated a few times per week, what a boost for the nation that would be, and a powerful example of sport for good.

Our professional players can also get involved and it wouldn’t be difficult to implement appropriate safeguards and social distancing so that we could help others and stay safe ourselves.

Sporting clubs are hubs for communities and it is solidarity and self sacrifice that the nation needs now, which are hallmarks of all those running sporting clubs around the nation.

After all, teamwork; being part of a community, is what sport is all about.

We need not just close the season and let this army of goodwill dissipate when so many others need our help.

Let’s not only stop playing but apply our passion in a different and very powerful way to help others in society who are going to desperately need it.

This season, why not ‘Play for Lives,’ not points. I’ll be the first to volunteer.