Heartland player’s death scare: Timely reminder for our clubs and NFF to sort out their medical care

By Nelson Dafe on April 12, 2016

Views: 3,141

It was reported that a player of Heartland FC of Owerri last weekend slumped during a Premier League fixture against visiting River United. Goal.com writes that defender Brown Baye Okpus went down on his own and passed out after he had given a back pass to his goalkeeper. Fans at the stadium expected the worst when he couldn’t be revived at the stadium and only had to hope as he was rushed to the Owerri Federal Medical Centre for treatment.

This time, hope won as Okpus made a recovery at the medical centre.

However, as we know, some other players who have suffered a slump during games have not been so lucky as they have made the ultimate transition through that way. Both local and international players have died on the pitch, examples being the sad and painful cases of Cameroon’s Marc Vivien Foe, our own Sam Okwaraji and local hero Amir Angwe, to mention just a few.

While some of the deaths on pitches have come in spite of the presence of some state-of-the-art medical facilities that are on offer in European stadia, incidents like the Okpus case bring to mind the poor and, in most cases, inexistent state of medical facilities in Nigeria’s stadia.

It is rather worrisome that in this time of massive improvements in medical science worldwide, our local football doesn’t seem to pay much heed to the health of players. I covered the just-ended Edo State Challenge Cup and the total lack of care as regards basic things as proper first aid boxes by teams and the tournament organisers was appalling.

When a player went down, about two Red Cross chaps ran onto the pitch with a sachet of pure water in their hands and nothing else; absolutely nothing else. Many fans made jest of this, teasing the medics for running on to the pitch with only pure water sachets to treat all kinds of injuries ranging from small knocks to heavier bruises. It was a funny imagery at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, but the possible consequences are grim, to say the least. Sadly, this is the same scenario that plays out even in Nigerian top division matches.

Even when lives have not been lost, careers have been ruined and players’ health has suffered permanent damages by the utter lack of medical care in our match venues.

Quite simply, it is time to insist on the provision of proper first aid kits by teams participating in all NFF-organised competitions. It is time to insist that host venues have a functional ambulance equipped with all the facilities and drugs needed to cater to emergency situations.

Football-related fatalities are painful for all of us to deal with, but like it sadly is with some other fatal cases in our national life, we seem to dare fate by our very negligence.

•Nelson Dafe, whose photo appears alongside this article, is Daily Sports Correspondent in Benin City.

Source Daily Sports

Posted April 12, 2016

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