By Akeem Busari
It was another dark day for Nigerian football as it lost yet another promising footballer to the cold hands of death. Chieme Martins a player of NPFL side Nasarawa United, collapsed and died in the game with Kwara United yesterday in Lafia, Nasarawa state.
Many stakeholders and followers of the beautiful game has described it as one death too many. Whilst others condemned the medical and security situations at the league venues across the country.
In a quick response to the sad news, the National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF), in a statement signed by the union’s scribe, Austin Popo, while commiserating with the family, friends and management of the team, lamented the unfortunate and avoidable death.
The foremost players’ union therefore reiterated its determination to intensify its efforts in ensuring it gets more involved with issues of security and health conditions of players, before, during and after the season.
And that it would become effective upon the signing of the proposed Collective Labour Agreement ( CLO), between the players’ union, league bodies and the Nigeria football federation in line with global best practices.
” It is time the league and the federation set up a joint task force including union officials under such agreement, for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing compliance of basic leagues regulations such as medical examinations, amongst others in the local leagues,” it stated.
In the same vein, another major player in the fortunes of Nigerian football, the Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria (FIAN), also regretted the untimely death Chieme Martins.
A statement signed by the body’s Chairman Ayodele Thomas, and released by its Public Relations Officer, Kelvin Irikwfe, expressed its sadness as it joins the football fraternity and the country to mourn the death of the young footballer.
” We acknowledge that accidents are inevitable in such a contact sport. However, we call on the football authorities to leave no stone unturned in investigating the immediate causes and the emergency medical responses upon the incident.”
It continued; “While we mourn, the issues of match venue security and medicals facilities, as well as a compulsory players’ insurance policy must be effectively returned to the front burner. And beyond beautiful workshop talks, seminar papers, and media lip service. We cannot wait till the next tragedy happens and then go back to our usual rherorics and wailings.”
“We can’t afford to wait till another tragedy happens and then, we return to the usual rherorics and wailings.”
The statement further affirms FIAN’s readiness and enthusiasm to participate in renewed and concerted efforts aimed at practically keeping Nigerian footballers safe and insured against avoidable casualties on and off the pitch.