Make 'safety first' the mantra for sports

A teenager was playing cricket at Vishwa Pragati Mandal (VPM) Sports Complex in Dahisar when an arrow, shot by an archer practising nearby, got lodged in his head. Both boys are 16. The victim, Brijesh Sahani, was immediately taken to Karuna Hospital where neurosurgeons treated him. The arrow was surgically removed.

This paper had reported that a group of archers and cricket players were both practising at VPM sports club ground at Pramila Nagar. A witness said that Brijesh was bowling and was about to release the ball when the arrow pierced his head.

While one cannot blame youngsters for this, it is shocking that the management of this ground allowed archers and cricket players to practise next to each other. Such sports cannot be mixed and simply saying that this was a ‘freak’ accident cannot help.

There have to be clear demarcations on a ground between certain sports. There must be a net or some other kind of partition between the archery area and the rest of the maidan, as there is always a possibility of an arrow flying awry.

In certain maidans in Mumbai, too, we see practise for field events like the shot put, javelin and discus takes place on one side and athletes train for track events on the other. If these are close, then there is always the possibility of a javelin, shot put or discus hitting somebody if they are hurled by an inexperienced athlete. Even experienced athletes can make mistakes. These accidents may not happen regularly but they are always within the realm of possibility.

If separations are not possible, one must have different times for these sports so that players need not practise next to each other. Even football and cricket should not be mixed, (a cricket ball can hit a footballer’s head) and the same is true of other sports as well.

Safety first must be the mantra, especially when children are practising sport. The case of the arrow piercing the 16-year-old’s brain is a tragic one and what managers have to do is learn lessons and, most importantly, implement them. This is surely the most basic precaution to take and all it needs is will and common sense.

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