In a conversation with a dear friend over an ice-cold ‘Coca Cola’ in the township, the issue of players suddenly collapsing during matches in professionally managed football leagues across the world, arose.
Following the cardiac arrest suffered by the English Premiership outfit, Bolton Wanderers’ midfielder, Fabrice Muamba last month, one really wonders how serious and at what length our local football authorities address the issue of having our local players within the domestic premier league, get regular medical check-ups to avoid unnecessary incidents or the loss of lives on the pitch.
We might not have experienced serious medical problems of a player yet, or perhaps witnessed any collapses of players during matches from our domestic elite league but who says that cannot happen in Namibia?
I sincerely think that the Namibia Premier League (NPL) should call on her 12-member football clubs to deploy sport medics or medical doctors at the playing fields if clubs cannot employ doctors who can, on a regular basis, monitor players’ health.
I have witnessed premier league matches where the presence of an emergency vehicle are notably absent or arrive very late. Yet again, with the window-dressing of some clubs, which apparently have club medics, one thing for sure is that, those club medics are usually poorly-equipped and when a player gets injured or something happens, they (club medics) run into the field with nothing but a bottle of water.
Surely, credit goes to Donatha Ngunovandu and her committed team but then again, some premier league clubs have decided not to use her services for reasons best known to them or they simply (clubs) do not have the funds to utilise her service.
During our conversation, it became clear to me that my friend is still unimpressed with the manner in which football is being run in the country including the indecisiveness of the NPL on enforcing the rules and the laws of the game.
Clearly, before any game, an emergency vehicle should be deployed before kickoff while care should be taken as properly-trained and well-equipped medical personnel should be present on the sidelines of the field.
I really do not want to exaggerate but prevention, like most of you know, is better than cure. So come next season, all clubs should prioritise the health of players and not have unnecessary calamities that could have been avoided.
How would you want to professionalise the game of football if you are always beaten due to lack of proper enforced rules that ensure the safety of players?
Apart from the health of players, recently, Kaizer Chief’s mentor, Vladimir Vermezovic lashed out at the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) on their negligence when Chief’s goal-stopper, Itumeleng Khune collided with another player.
The coach was upset because the medical attention given to Khune on the field was not satisfactory for him, because there was no oxygen mask, nor was there a doctor to attend to the player.
In the late 90’s Nigerian midfielder, Nwankwo Kanu received a medical surgery after medical tests revealed serious heart defects. Luckily, the condition was detected in time.
Cameroon midfielder, Marc-Vivien Foe, however, wasn’t that lucky; he collapsed and died on the pitch in 2003 during an international match in France. The autopsy later revealed that the Cameroonian great midfielder died of heart problems. Now, what will it take for the NPL to introduce certain measures to avoid such problems?
Football administrator, Joshua Hoebeb should thus call an urgent meeting with the BoG to address issues that really concern players’ health and safety.