Foot­ball tragedies re­quire ur­gent ac­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

THE TRAGEDIES that have oc­curred within foot­ball are ur­gent of de­bate and ac­tion.

The death of a child while rep­re­sent­ing his school at sports may not have been pre­ventable – based on the leaked au­topsy re­port – but his demise high­lights the im­por­tance of the proper ex­am­i­na­tion of chil­dren be­ing ac­cepted to ev­ery in­sti­tu­tion of learn­ing in Ja­maica.

The present protocol seems to be the same for ev­ery child go­ing to school – be it pre-school, ba­sic school, pri­mary school, or sec­ondary school.

The form re­quires very lit­tle de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion and seems to be fo­cused on the child’s im­mu­ni­sa­tion sta­tus. For ex­am­ple, how many school ad­min­is­tra­tors read the form sub­mit­ted, and even if they do, how many act on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the ex­am­in­ing physi­cian?

Does the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s state­ment of “Poor den­tal hy­giene, needs ur­gent den­tal care” re­sult in ac­tion from the school when it is patently ob­vi­ous that there is very lit­tle parental su­per­vi­sion of this vi­tal as­pect of the child’s health and po­ten­tial to learn?

The pre-par­tic­i­pa­tion ex­am­i­na­tion, prior to par­tic­i­pa­tion in school sports un­der the aus­pices of the In­terSe­condary Schools As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSA) pro­posed by the Heart Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica and sup­ported by the Heart In­sti­tute of the Caribbean, must be­come manda­tory for ev­ery com­pet­i­tive sport at school level.


This protocol in­volves a de­tailed ques­tion-and-an­swer form that must be com­pleted by the child/par­tic­i­pant and the par­ent to­gether, ide­ally in the pres­ence of a mem­ber of the team con­duct­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion.

The an­swers to the ques­tions in this sec­tion of the ex­am­i­na­tion can alert the ex­am­in­ing physi­cian to po­ten­tial med­i­cal


prob­lems that need to be paid spe­cial at­ten­tion and in some cases fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

That means that the ex­am­iner has to be some­one with spe­cial­ist train­ing in sports medicine and, hope­fully, some ex­pe­ri­ence in car­diac-re­lated prob­lems.

The fact that this project is be­ing spear­headed by the Heart Foun­da­tion and the Heart In­sti­tute of the Caribbean au­gurs well for our chil­dren, but, and this is a big BUT, there has to be branches of these in­sti­tu­tions islandwide and not con­fined to the cor­po­rate area.

This protocol, if prop­erly com­pleted, is not cheap and re­quires fund­ing not only from the schools and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, but also from the pri­vate sec­tor, which gains tremen­dous sup­port from the fans of school sports.


The amount of money gar­nered from the spon­sor­ship of ‘Champs’ and school­boy foot­ball should man­date that there is a stated per­cent­age of spon­sor­ship dol­lars to any school­based sport­ing com­pe­ti­tion go­ing to­wards the med­i­cal care of the par­tic­i­pat­ing chil­dren. We owe it to our kids.

The other tragedy, to my way of think­ing, was the rev­e­la­tion of the de­tails of the of­fer made to Carl Brown, a for­mer na­tional player and suc­cess­ful coach of Boys’ Town Foot­ball Club and Ja­maica.

“Capo”, as he is af­fec­tion­ately known from his days as the cap­tain of Boys’ Town and Ja­maica, has been there, done that in vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of lo­cal foot­ball.

He has run the na­tional pro­gramme on his own and has been there at the side of Brazil­ian coaches, who have been asked to guide lo­cal foot­ball to in­ter­na­tional rel­e­vance.

I share Carl Brown’s dis­may and sense of be­ing in­sulted when I read the con­tents of the e-mail sent to ‘Capo’ over the sig­na­ture of the sec­re­tary of the Ja­maica Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (JFF), Ray­mond Grant.

I am pre­pared to as­sume that Mr. Grant typed the let­ter on in­struc­tions and some­how didn’t read or un­der­stand the con­tents. There can be no other ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion for that in­sult­ing e-mail.

The mis­sive ex­em­pli­fies the con­tempt that the present hi­er­ar­chy of the fed­er­a­tion has for lo­cal coaches and re­veals their pen­chant for coaches and players with for­eign ad­dresses and ac­cents.

It is now painfully ob­vi­ous that the present JFF can­not be al­lowed to con­tinue to guide Ja­maica’s foot­ball if in­ter­na­tional rel­e­vance is the ul­ti­mate aim.

Foot­ball fans of Ja­maica, act now.

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