IT was just before midday when, finally, he returned the call.
For two days, he had not been picking his calls, and for a very good reason, too.
“I have been very busy over the last two days,’’ he said. “I have hardly touched my phone.’’
Of course, Somani Mudariki is always busy.
After all, he is a medical doctor, and combines that with his passion — football.
He has been the team doctor for Premiership side, Harare City, and was with the Warriors at the last AFCON finals in Egypt, as the national side’s medical chief.
Football has always been a big part of his life.
And, so has been medicine, and — in recent weeks — he has been busy, very, very busy.
Mudariki is one of the frontline soldiers involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
How things change.
Around this same period, last year, he was busy with the Warriors as they prepared to go to Egypt for their fourth AFCON finals appearance.
But, these aren’t normal times.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has held the world to ransom and everything is at a standstill.
The domestic Premiership season, which was scheduled to start back in March, is on hold and might get underway, in the best case scenario, around August/September.
The Warriors had been scheduled to play two 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Algeria, at the end of March, but the matches were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The home-based Warriors, too, couldn’t travel to Cameroon, for the 2020 CHAN finals, after both FIFA and CAF put the international football calendar on hold.
Now, Zimbabwe, just like other countries around the world, has a new group of heroes and heroines.
Men and women who have been on the frontlines, in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, battling to give the world a fighting chance to beat this virus.
They have sacrificed even their lives, and those of their families, to try and ensure that we all get a chance to this war against an invisible enemy.
More than 1 000 medical specialists have died around the world trying to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
And, for Mudariki, who is right at the centre of the battle in this country, this is just another call of duty.
“We are working with the Rapid Response Team for COVID-19,’’ he told The Saturday Herald.
“It is part of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak and is tailor-made to manage cases.
“There are eight pillars, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, to help fight this disease.
“We are working with others and I should say the Government has done very well to address these issues.”
Mudariki said he wants to see everything coming back to normal and he has to put his all, working with others, if sport — and our lives — are to return to what we had, all along, been used to.
“In as much as we want to see sport making a rebound, it won’t make any sense to risk lives amid this outbreak,’’ he said.
“This is the reason why we are calling upon everybody to play their role in this fight.
“I cannot really divulge the details of what is involved in the frontline duties which we also find ourselves doing.
“But, I can say that the fight is real. The disease is lethal. And, there are some complications involved as malaria, tuberculosis and other ailments may have the same symptoms like COVID-19.
“So, we also carry out tests for those diseases to ascertain whether it’s really Cvid-19 or some other ailment.
“We are very determined to end this scourge.
“Of course, I know I would normally be with the team (Harare City), but this is not the time to think about that. It is time to save lives and protect the game I love.”
Mudariki’s sister-in-law, Patience, who was the Gems’ team doctor when the senior netball team took part at their maiden Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, last year, has also joined in the fight against the coronavirus.
She would have probably been away for a Gems’ friendly tie against South Africa in Pretoria this weekend, but plans for that match were shredded by the COVID-19 outbreak. But, she has decided to play a key role to give the game she grew up supporting, a chance to be played in a safe environment in the future.
Though she couldn’t be reached for comment, Mudariki said she, just like everyone else in the struggle, is determined to do her best to end the pandemic.
ZIFA Medical Committee chairman, Edward Chagonda, who of late has been the leading voice on anti-Doping on the domestic sporting fraternity, is also at the frontline in this war against the novel coronavirus.
“We want to see our country become free of this scourge. If we cannot take an active role, who would?
“We love sport and that love should be seen as we fight to see it being played in a safe environment,” said Chagonda.
There are so many cadres — physiotherapists, medics, doctors and psychologists — who would normally be with their sport teams, but have jumped to the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the renowned sports medical experts, who are at the frontline in this fight, include Dimus Chipandu, Dynamos team doctor, Robert Musara, Farai Muguwu, FC Platinum’s Edgar Chiunze as well as Warriors’ physio Edgar Nyamadzawo.
Prosper Chonzi, Harare City’s Health Director, has also been on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 since the first case was confirmed in this country.
And, Mudariki insists everyone, from the Government and all sectors of life, deserve credit for the efforts they are making to beat the pandemic.
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