Children play inside an entertainment hall yesterday.

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Families in Kuwait breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday as entertainment activities for children resumed under health requirements and precautionary measures after a year and a half of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, most sports activities that had stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic resumed in June 2021. Cricketers in Kuwait, for example, resumed their regular games and tournaments in July. The community of cricketers in Kuwait comprises of 150 teams with 18-20 members each. They have been holding matches at various outdoor locations in Kuwait, but spectators have been barred due to health protocols.

Indian cricket organizer Jiss Jacob told Kuwait Times, players on the weekend continue to swell in numbers after months of inactivity. “More and more sporting activities are taking place now, especially since everything seems to be alright and we are slowly returning back to normal. We are happy to have survived this scary pandemic, and need to push for more activities to compensate for the lost months. Most people find cricket a relaxing activity, and wait to meet friends and enjoy the game after a week of work pressure and tensions,” he said.

According to Jacob, cricket has connected many people, and whenever someone is in a difficult situation, other players lend their support. “Recently, a friend passed away on the ground due to cardiac arrest, and we helped him. That’s the good thing about sports – we not only channel our strength and energy, but also financially and even mentally and emotionally,” he pointed out.

KUWAIT: Kuwait Municipality team inspect health measures taken at an entertainment facility inside a local mall yesterday. —Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh

‘Emotional recovery’

Meanwhile, the Association of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait (ASFOK) announced plans to resume sporting activities from tomorrow at Qadsiya Sporting Club in Hawally. A sports fest will be held from 7 am to 5 pm. Francis ‘Kikz’ Olpindo, coordinator and the current ASFOK chairman, said “it’s about time to help our kababayans (countrymen) recover from the emotionally draining environment of the past two years”.

“We need to help each other to recover. This is a much-needed activity and relief from all the cares of the coronavirus. If we are too slow to resume and get emotional, this pandemic will continue to hurt our people and it will be very hard for all of us to recover. It will continue to devastate people, so we need to face the reality and at least play,” he told Kuwait Times.

ASFOK also plans to organize basketball, chess, volleyball, badminton and table tennis tournaments with the strict implementation of health measures at the venue. “We want the sports fest to succeed and hope that we will be able to help Filipinos restart anew. All sporting activities are now allowed, but we will be strictly following health protocols and advice of the club and health experts and welcome members only. We still discourage non-members to join, especially if they are unvaccinated. The sports fest will have a no vaccine, no entry policy,” Olpindo said.

“While we will be glad to return to the pre-COVID environment and want everyone to enjoy, it is the responsibility of each one of us to be safe. Players should immediately leave the venue after their games; that way, we will all be safe,” he added.

In June, Kuwait resumed all sporting activities, more than 15 months after the pandemic hit the nation, but with strict implementation of health protocols. Sports clubs and associations must comply with ministry of health’s measures to ensure the safety of players. The move comes as the country is intensifying its vaccination campaign. In the last few weeks, Kuwait has administered 2,790,113 vaccine doses, at a rate of around 38,000 daily. According to reports, 70 percent of people have been vaccinated.