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Man behind the lens goes the extra mile for amateur soccer

Rashied Isaacs has been a sports photographer for more than a decade. Picture: Supplied

Rashied Isaacs has been a sports photographer for more than a decade. Picture: Supplied

Published May 21, 2022


Cape Town - When Rashied Isaacs is not promoting amateur soccer through his lens, he is trying to save lives on a sports field.

Isaacs is collecting data of people who have died on soccer fields across Cape Town as part of his risk management proposal and will provide it to researchers of Saarland University in Germany on behalf of Fifa. The football governing body wants to introduce a death register globally.

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Isaacs says the proposal deals with the enterprise risk management to Safa Cape Town and how they can put measures in place to safeguard soccer players.

“It is a comprehensive approach from policy implementation, risk assessment, analysis and reporting. The deaths on the football field and their collection of data over the years has spurred me on to do my masters.

“This will add to the body of knowledge on the subject matter as I need to put a good argument forward to address the problem. There is nothing more useful than empirical evidence coupled with a good transcript of valid findings to change a discourse,” he said.

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According to Isaacs’ findings, between 2007 and May 18, nine players and one referee died during amateur football matches and one other player during a training session in Cape Town. Nine were between the ages of 26 and 56, while the other two were only 16.

“It was difficult to confirm the cause of deaths as I do not have access to the autopsy reports, however, confirmed reports by family members indicated cardiac arrest as the cause of nine of the 11 deaths.

“Regarding the other two deaths, reports by media and club officials indicated a bump against the head of Ryan Rasool during a school game, as the mechanism of injury, which caused him to be hospitalised hours later and he succumbed to his injury not long after that.

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“He complained about headaches and nausea at home, and questions to the club officials by myself (to see) if the medics on the day picked up the clinical signs of a head injury, were left unanswered.

“Derick Pinn experienced breathing difficulties after he sustained a blow to the torso area. He was taken off during the game and collapsed in the shower afterwards,” he said.

Isaacs added that any injury on the sport fields is potentially high risk if not treated correctly and seeing the lack of proper risk management is really frustrating.

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“My personal opinion is that a death register will help in recording the different types of fatalities and causes in the different age groups in the sport and try to mitigate further incidents with research and risk management.

“We need a collaborative approach to making the sport fields safe with more people coming on board with the same objectives in mind. I am hoping with the highlighting of the risk to enable dialogue among the persons of interest.

“I took a chance to write to researchers of Saarland University with the incidents recorded and their positive response has proven that anything is possible if your intentions are pure,” he said.

Chairperson of Safa Cape Town medical and sports science committee Dr Nasief van der Schyff said this is an important project.

“Not only will this give us information, but will it help us communicate the importance of the problem, the challenges faced at community level and be able to engage with various organisations including the department of health and wellness. This will help us tackle this problem collectively and to ensure that we can prevent (further) deaths on our fields,” he said.

President of Safa Cape Town Bennett Bailey said research is good for football development, especially the safety part of the game.

“We had, pre-Covid-19, (first aid) courses for all local football associations, equipping them with the necessary skill sets. Rashied assisted us in getting a facilitator. In moving forward, we will continue having such courses.

“In events where Safa Cape Town is directly in control, medical assistance is always present. This is a condition under which Safa CT sanctioned tournaments. The City, before issuing a permit, requested that the medical plans should form part of the event pack,” he said.

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