I was home over the weekend watching the FA Cup game between Tottenham Hotspurs and Bolton Wanderers when the sad story of the DRC-born English player Fabrice Muamba unfolded. As I watched live events on television and fold tweets and website updates, I could not help but ask myself, “what if Muamba was playing at Kpando Heart of Lion’s park or even at our most modern pitch in our biggest city, Accra; would he have been attended to with the sort of speed and quality?”
Folks, whether or not Muamba is dead by Tuesday when you read this, the medics at White Hart Lane have taught the whole football world valuable lessons and the family of Muamba and Bolton would be eternally grateful. The outpour of emotions and sympathy from both sets of fans and teams was simply amazing and as some starts twittered, at these times the world of football becomes one.
According to the BBC, their chief football reporter Ian Dennis, who was covering the game at White Hart Lane, witnessed medics rushing to aid Muamba. “When the medical staff arrived his face was on the turf,” he said. “You could see them using a defibrillator and he was [electronically] charged on at least two occasions. Everyone could see Fabrice Muamba was fighting for his life. “If he does pull through it will be down to the quick actions of the medics.”
Yes I do see some ambulance parked at the Accra Sports Stadium sometimes during games. I am not sure whether or not all other stadia and parks where GFA-sanctioned games take place. An ambulance is not just a vehicle with a bed-like thing at the back with blue and red flashing lights on the top and a red cross on the sides of the van. I am not going to pretend I have being in any of these ambulances but I don’t need to be in them to start to worry about our state of preparedness when it comes to handling emergencies in this country. If for nothing at all, we have all being witnesses to the way our emergency services respond to fires and floods and accidents and all. Why should I believe that we are taking medical emergencies at our stadia serious?
Do we have medical doctors in every GFA-sanctioned game? And I am talking about games from the so-called Premier League right through the first and second divisions through the women’s leagues and to colts football leagues, do we? We have teams who have nothing but first aid attendants who carry with them bags containing ointments and gauge and bandages and nothing else. Some (I think I should be saying ‘most’) stadia do not even have ambulances.
According to media reports and what we saw on television, medical staff gave the former England Under-21 international mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and tried to revive him with a defibrillator and he was electronically charged twice on the field of play. Now I am not sure our first aid people on our fields have the tools to perform that sort of action. Thing is, across Europe lessons are learnt and implemented on a continuous basis to improve the game, improve revenue, improve on player safety, improve on fan safety, and the general health and growth of the round leather.
Down here, we are oblivious of all that happens around us. We take nothing serious. We still live by the ‘nyame woho’ philosophy so all we do is to pray that players do not suffer serious illnesses or injuries whiles playing. If they do, and as a result of the unavailability of effective emergency treatment support someone dies, we will attribute it to some witchcraft or black magic or some other nonsense like that. Some not-so smart politician will come ‘advocating’ improved emergency services as though he just realised it did not exist.
In Ghana we love copying from the West. Now let’s copy what happened at White Hart Lane on Saturday March 17. Now THAT is worth imitating!