Maybe something good will come out of the Nigerian Premier League tragedy last weekend

Nigeria

Last weekend, during a routine Nigerian Premier League match between the Nassarawa United team and Katsina United, a Nassarawa United player Chineme Martins suffered a concussion while fielding a tackle from an opposing player. That tackle, while fairly dangerous, would end up taking Chineme’s life, helped along by incompetence from many parties.

Chineme Martins was playing during a league match in a sport known for its physicality and its propensity for injuries. Even in world class situations, players aren’t spared from career damaging injuries like broken bones and torn muscles and often require world class medical attention on the field in case of an injury. At the Nassarawa United vs Katsin United match in Lafia, there was scant medical attention, with the only ambulance available being a decrepit vehicle that players had to push to get it to start. In spite of all the incompetence, Chineme somehow managed to hold on till he got the hospital where the medical staff were ill-equipped to deal with sports related injuries and couldn’t save him.

It is heartbreaking to see how little value is placed on the lives of Nigerians, especially athletes who participate in sports with the potential for injuries. But Chineme’s death and the social media uproar that has followed it is forcing the Nigerian Football Federation, the body in charge of regulating the Nigerian Premier League to take action. They released a statement via their official social media channels acknowledging the tragedy and outlining their next course of action.

It shouldn’t have to take a tragedy to force the NFF or other official bodies to make provisions for the health and well being of athletes, but this is Nigeria.

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