While the District Sports Office (DSO) regularly organises sporting tournaments at the school level, its apathy towards the safety and medical care of the young athletes participating in these events could nip careers in the bud. At the ongoing DSO U-14 Football Tournament at Azad Maidan, there is a shocking absence of basic medical facilities for players, in the event of an injury.
At a match played between Diamond Jubilee High School and Anjuman-E-Islam Allana yesterday, Anjuman player Taif Ansari (13) suffered a fracture on his left leg. It soon became clear that no arrangements were in place for such an incident. He was finally given first aid by his coach, who later took him to Fort’s G T Hospital on a scooter.
For any match, it is an absolute must to have at hand some ice, and a basic first-aid box containing antiseptic cream, bandage, scissors, cotton, pain relief spray, painkillers, and band-aid. The organisers should also make arrangements for the presence of a physiotherapist, a doctor, a stretcher, and an ambulance to wheel out an injured player to the hospital.
Taif is recovering from the shock and pain of the experience. The young boy cracked the shinbone (tibia) of his left leg while getting tackled on the field. “I remember feeling excruciating pain after the other team’s player accidentally kicked my left leg. I was unable to stand, and my shoes had come off. I requested my coach to take me to the hospital,” said Taif from his hospital bed.
“The entire time that I lay injured on the ground, I was not provided any first-aid care and was taken to the hospital by my coach and a school teacher. Thankfully, it was only 10 minutes away,” he added.
The Byculla resident has been participating in such tournaments for the last three years and says he has never seen any first-aid care being provided or a doctor being called on the field after an injury.
Coach Ashfaque Ansari expressed shock and disappointment with the utter lack of medical facilities at hand, but said that the boys had no option but to play the DSO events, given the significance of the certificates issued by the district body. “We are used to the kind of treatment meted out by the DSO every year. But they seem to be least interested in learning from their mistakes. They just want to conduct the tournament and finish off their responsibilities. The boys are forced to play the DSO tournament as their certificates are beneficial to them in the long run,” said Ansari.
Another coach said, “I don’t know what the DSO is waiting for. Somebody to collapse on the field? Such incidents have occurred in the past as well but this one was major. Today, they didn’t even have a proper first-aid box, forget about a doctor.”
The boy’s mother Rehana said, “They did not even have a bandage or a stretcher to attend to my son. He will undergo surgery on Saturday and we can only hope he will be able to attend school in the near future.”
Taif’s father, Hafizur said that they were called to the hospital by his son’s coach. “The DSO didn’t even have basic medical facilities at the ground.”
In this day and age, medical facilities play a major role in a player’s career. Be it in any sport – football, basketball or boxing – the presence of medical staff should be mandatory. And it is most important that medical facilities are provided at the grassroots level, as that is where the future sportspersons are going to come from. Incidents where a player suffers owing to lack of medical facilities inspires fear amongst parents, who no longer want to send their kids to play any sport. If you damage a seed before it becomes a tree, there is no point. It is similar with a player. In boxing, a proper medical nod has to be given to the athlete before the bout, at any level. I feel sad that such things aren’t looked at. And then we expect medals from our players.
-- Akhil Kumar, Olympic, medal-winning boxer
Medical aid is a must for any group tournaments. It doesn’t matter who organises it, but these are things that should be of prime importance. If an athlete is injured playing a district level sport, it’s a shame that the organisers couldn’t bear the medical expenses.
The state grants separate funds for sporting disciplines at the grassroots level. If they can’t bear the medical funds at the district level, the state should stop conducting sporting events rather than risking sporting careers. I feel that the DSO should take care of the medical expenses. If there are no allocations, they should make provisions. The main reason why sports never comes up in our country is because this blame game goes on.
-- Dhanraj Pillay, four-time, Olympian hockey legend
It is mandatory to have a physiotherapist for state and national level tournaments for badminton. But in a contact sport like football where injuries could happen anytime, I feel that they should have a physiotherapist and a doctor for any tournament.
-- Uday Pawar, former international badminton player and coach
Dr Pradeep Bhosale, head of orthopaedics at KEM Hospital said, “The impact of the kick the boy received on the shin was severe enough to cause such a fracture. Such cases need to be assessed immediately to determine how severe the fracture is, so as to avoid further damage.” He added that Ansari will take three months to fully recover, before he can walk without support.
The Other Side
DSO official Sumit Patil’s apathy was evident. He said, “Who says there was no first-aid kit at Azad Maidan? There was a box that had Dettol, cotton and Soframycin cream. Taking a player to hospital is not our responsibility. We had informed the school before the start of the tournament that the DSO would not deal with any of injuries. I am just a part of a big organisation. I provide whatever I get from the government,” Patil said.