webinar: Post COVID-19 Era: University Sports in a new dimension

Tuesday, 30th March 2021

The Department of Physical Education and Sport held a webinar on Post COVID-19 Era: University Sports in a New Dimension. The main speaker at the event was Peninnah Aligawesa Kabenge; Vice President-Federation of International University Sports and Head Sports and Recreation Department at Makerere University.

 Peninnah started her presentation by giving a detailed look at the COVID 19 global realities like high mortalities, Disruption of social and economic activities, Social inequities, ideological fault lines, systemic failures, economic risks, geopolitical tensions, distrust between governments and citizens, and uncertainty and fake news and how these realities have greatly impacted sporting activities in Universities. “The interruption in university sport is going to be long” she stated. The current reality is that students are learning off-campus and they are confined where they cannot participate in contact sports activities like football and rugby. Universities had to cancel all sporting activity at regional and national levels; this lack of physical activity has affected the fitness levels and psychological health of many young people.

Whereas the pandemic has disrupted life as we know it, one of the major COVID 19 disruptions has been economic losses, “Several jobs in university sports are at risk globally, not only for sports professionals but also for those in related retail and sporting services industries connected with leagues and events, which include travel, tourism, infrastructure, transportation, catering and media broadcasting, among others” Pauline stated. She further explained how the pandemic has further complicated the economic survival of the coaching staff who play a fundamental role in University sports.

 To manage the current realities, Pamela recommended the following key steps:

  1. Develop a continuity plan that involves Reviewing the training programs,
  2. Build a virtual infrastructure to provide for online training Management solutions
  3. Pre and in-service refresher training and Equipping trainers with adequate teaching tools and Smart Devices and
  4. Frequently Assess and Evaluate Strategies.

The introduction of virtual infrastructure will introduce a new dynamic and present some challenges; while digital platforms have enormous benefits for delivering sports program, they are particularly difficult for delivering hands-on learning activities that are naturally meant for enactment in laboratories, gymnasia, dance studios, swimming pools, outdoor and playground experiences. Given that some Sports content and activities are transferable to online formats, athletes, coaches, and all involved need to explore and invest resources in digital conferencing tools to enable fast and uninterrupted access to learning platforms.

In conclusion, Pamela stated that COVID- 19 pandemic has had and will continue to have very considerable effects on the sporting world as well as on the physical and mental well-being of people around the world. The future of University sports, and its impact on society, will be shaped by an array of factors both within and beyond the control of stakeholders. She called for the universities to go back to the drawing board and review statutes, rules and regulations, and find innovative ways to bring back safe sporting events.

Dr. Munayi, Chairman Department of Physical Education and Sport opened the plenary session for participants to discuss their views on Sports during a global pandemic. Among the issues discussed was the importance of providing psychosocial support to sportsmen and women, members also called for universities to ensure coaches are trained on other virtual sports like digital chess, universities need to adapt to the new norm which will mean accepting new sports. In conclusion, members were asked to adopt low-risk sport activities that students can actively engage in for physical wellness.

The webinar is part of a series of webinars organized by the University of Nairobi as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. The webinar was attended by participants from the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Makerere University, and participants from Tanzania and USA.

Full presentation HERE