Somehow you do not expect to receive news or to witness the death of a teenager while they are in the middle of playing a football match. That was the case for this youngster who collapsed and died yesterday afternoon. His father witnessed it all, and one can only imagine the devastation for this man. To top it off, it was his one and only child; his mother oh what pain must the parents be experiencing.
As usual with such an epic tragedy, all quarters have come out blazing. Sympathies and yes systems that must be implemented we now here the talk. I ask, how long has football been taking place on the Roc? Why do we not have medical equipment’s, vehicles on hand? For crying out loud, do not talk to me about lack of resources. We surely can get sponsorship whenever it is we deem an event to be important enough. If football does not fit into that category, why the hell do we continue to play the game at that level and beyond?
Fat cats on the Island know how to milk, cream and cash out the entire hog for their own personal agenda, yet we do not seem to see it fit to factor health and wellness into our sporting policies. It should be part of the course that teenagers participating in sports have a full medical at least twice per year and must be given a clean bill of health to pursue any sporting activity. While all things are possible, it is hard to swallow that a teenager could just collapse and die on a football field. It brings me to a death in my own family where a male member who was under the age of 25 collapsed on a basketball court in a friendly game decades ago. The family already got the report from the doctors that he had a heart problem and was to desist from strenuous exercise. Needless to say, his love of basketball led him to make the choice to continue to play the game with his friends despite the medical report. A shock it certainly was, but again the family and himself were aware he had a heart condition.
Jamaica is inundated with brilliant minds, educated beyond education if there is such a thing. Through it all, what is lacking is the ability to be steadfast in being proactive rather than reactive each and every time. Will we see any changes in our youths being medically tested while competing? Will we aggressively seek sponsorship, donors so as to have medical equipment’s, vehicles onsite at major championships? If the Coach and management cannot speak to the medical wellbeing of their players; I opine that is a tragedy in itself. Not all deaths are inevitable. This is extremely saddening to me.
St George’s footballer dies after collapsing during match
It’s almost like I lost my son — Coach Bell
BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
(Jamaica Observer) Wednesday, September 21, 2016 47 Comments
A mere two minutes after the referee’s whistle signalled the opening of yesterday’s Manning Cup encounter between St George’s College and Excelsior High School, young Dominic James, captain of the ‘Light Blues’, collapsed on the Stadium East field.
Approximately 43 minutes later, Jamaica’s schoolboy football fraternity was plunged into deep mourning as news came back from University Hospital of the West Indies that the 18-year-old had died.
The tragedy was too heavy for his teammates. They fell to the ground in tears.
There were no dry eyes in the Excelsior camp either as they sought to comfort their opponents.
“This one tough, this one tough,” said a weeping Neville Bell, the St George’s coach. “I was very concerned because I hadn’t seen it [when Dominic fell], but when I looked at his eyes they were very glazed.”
Dominic’s fall was off the ball. But on seeing him go down, the Excelsior player closest to him frantically signalled for help.
Assistant referee Keeble Williams stopped the game immediately. St George’s team physician Dr Ivor Alexander and his counterpart from Excelsior ran to the young man’s aid. Both tried to revive him before he was placed in his father’s Honda CR-V and rushed to the hospital.
Dr Alexander told the Jamaica Observer that Dominic was foaming at the mouth and gasping for breath. “His body was shaking… he showed signs of a seizure,” the doctor said. “We wanted oxygen and couldn’t get any. We put him on his left side, but he was still gasping for breath. By then we got… a vehicle to carry him to the hospital.”
With the youngster off to get medical attention, the game resumed. Akeem Robotham had given St George’s a 26th-minute lead, before the dreadlocked Thorne Buchanan struck twice in the 30th and 38th minutes to give Excelsior a 2-1 advantage. However, when the shocking news was delivered on the stroke of half-time the game was called off.
“We had two doctors there and immediately they said ‘take him’. I think we have to give the assistant referee a lot of credit because it was off the ball he went down, and it was the assistant who stopped the game immediately and called us,” said Bell. “That has never happened before. God, I know we have to go on, but boy this one tough,” he said.
“I know he was alive when he left here, but when we called I heard that he had passed. But I pray for his mother and father. He is the only child. He is such a wonderful child. He is a great student athlete, he has so many subjects. He came to us from JC (Jamaica College) a couple of years ago and the fact that he was named captain this year we realised that he was probably the leader for the team, but again, boy, this one tough, it’s almost like I lost my son,” said an obviously distraught Bell.
Dr Alexander, clearly shaken by the tragedy, pleaded with the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) to provide proper medical assistance at games.
“It’s not just oxygen, we’re talking the basic resuscitation kit or even an Ambu bag. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation won’t help. CPR, maybe yes, but that alone won’t help, because after CPR you need backup equipment for the basic support of life, and oxygen included,” said Dr Alexander.
As news of the tragedy spread, JC team manager Ian Forbes extended condolence to Dominic’s family.
“The entire Jamaica College fraternity is saddened at the tragic loss of young Dominic James,” he told the
Observer after his team’s home match against Vauxhall High. “Dominic started here at Jamaica College and came up through the system. He was a member of the winning Manning Cup teams of 2013 and 2014.
“He transferred [two years ago] to St George’s but he still maintained the relationship with the team. They are totally devastated, so we would like to convey our condolence to the James family on this tragic loss,” Forbes said.
Last night, Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange expressed profound grief at Dominic’s passing.
“Like the rest of the country, I am very sad to receive this news,” she said in a statement. “No one expected this. Young Dominic, by all indications, had been doing well. He represented his school well… and had a very bright future. So this is quite a shock. All of Jamaica will mourn with his family and with his school at this time. We all must keep them in our prayers and in our hearts.”
Jamaica Football Federation President Captain Horace Burrell also expressed condolence to the James family.
“Other than his representation at the school and club levels, Dominic was just this year a part of the National Under-20 training camp and was a player and leader highly respected,” Burrell said and extended sympathies to “the St George’s College fraternity, the ISSA family, and all those who played with and knew this talented son of Jamaica”.
Health Ministry to lead talks to develop medical guidelines at sporting events
(Jamaica Observer) Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 5:35 PM
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Health says it will be leading discussions with other stakeholders towards the development of guidelines for medical coverage at sporting events.
This comes in light of the recent death of Dominic James, a student of St George’s College and captain of the school’s Manning Cup football team.
Dominic collapsed yesterday during a match and was later pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has expressed sadness at Dominic’s passing.