“There comes a time
In every man’s life where he’s got to face
The truth no matter what…”
Reflection on death gives rise to a variety of philosophical and mundane questions. One of the deepest of these is a question about the nature of death.
Typically, philosophers interpret this question as a call for an analysis or definition of the concept of death. Death is described as ‘mysterious’, but it is not clear what this means.
Suppose we cannot formulate a satisfactory analysis of the concept of death: in this respect death would be mysterious, but no more so than any other concept that defies analysis.
Some have said that what makes death especially mysterious and frightening is the fact that we cannot know what it will be like. Death is usually regarded as a great evil, especially if it strikes someone too soon.
Others have countered that the evil of death may lie in the fact that death deprives us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had lived.
On this view, death may be a great evil for a person, even if they cease to exist at the moment of death. Philosophers have also been concerned with the question of whether people can survive death. This is open to several interpretations, depending on what we understand to be people and what we mean by ‘survive’.
Finally, there are questions about death and the meaning of life. Suppose death marks the end of all conscious experience – would our lives be then rendered meaningless? Or would the fact of impending death help us to recognize the value of our lives, and thereby give deeper meaning to life?
On Sunday 8th day of March 2020, Martins Chineme, a central defender aged 23, had slumped without having contact with anyone in his own half towards the end of the first half of the Nigeria Professional Football League match between Nasarawa United Football Club and Katsina United Football Club. He was later pronounced dead at a specialist hospital few kilometers from the stadium.
The paragraph above is not the crux of this write up. Stakeholders and indeed millions of people saw video clips preceding the demise of the Player and lots of thoughts and comments have been poured out by experts and onlookers.
Martins is gone but his demise should be a wakeup call to Nigeria Professional Football Clubs and all stakeholders. This is because the issue of poor medical coverage is most likely affecting some clubs.
From the trending video clip, it was clear that both teams had no doctor on ground at the time of the sad incident.
I have attended over 100 match coordinating/prematch meetings in the Nigeria Professional Football League. During these meetings questions are asked as to the availability of doctors, ambulances, stretchers etc.
Most times the answers are in the affirmative. Some will say they have one doctor which turns out to be blatant falsehood. Some others would say they would rely on the State Football Association’s doctor. It springs up great surprise anytime such is the case because the Team Doctor should be personal to the team.
In as much as some clubs in the League have qualified medical doctors, I make bold to say without any fear or favour that no club in Nigeria can provide weekly medical reports showing the medical status of the players. WE ARE ALL CULPABLE!
Truly, the only time NPFL Clubs carry out thorough medical check is before the beginning of the season because such is a Club Licensing requirement. But after registration and licensing we go to sleep. WE ARE ALL CULPABLE
I will not have an atom of surprise if the resultant death of Martins was as a result of heart failure. One which studies have shown could be curbed with due and diligent medical care.
Now that we have a sad case on our hands, we all have to embrace the truth and strive to be more, to do more not only in the field of medicine in sports but also in safety and security.
It is not a time for blames but importantly a time for genuine reassessment of what we have really done in the administration of the beautiful game. No one is absolved of culpability here. No one is a saint. But I know that we can truly agree in our little way to do the things we can do to make our game beautiful.
Let it also be on record that instances that could have been fatal in the league in the past were forestalled due to the proactive nature of the personnel on ground . What these signify is that if we put things in place and refuse to take things for granted we would not record sad incidents like these.
We have already started a campaign for periodic checkup of football players as well as enlightenment on the stadium safety and security in Enugu and we hope that in the coming days our message would spread to other football clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Written by Amobi Ezeaku
A Sports Lawyer and Team Manager, Rangers International of Enugu