Former Inter Milan hitman Mohamed Kallon and former AC Milan Midfielder Rodney Strasser (Pictured) have joined in solidarity to support and endorsed the ‘FOOTBALL HEART PROJECT’.
The project was recently set up after the death of Ivory Coast international Cheick Tioté in China last month due to cardiac arrest.
Football Hearts is an awareness project that aims to stem the tide of heart-related diseases and cardiac arrests in football.
The project was publicly declared on June 26, commemorative of the 14th year memorial of the death of Marc-Vivien Foe, who also collapsed and died of cardiac arrest while playing for his country Cameroon at the 2003 Confederations Cup.
Speaking from the USA, the former Sierra Leone captain Mohamed Kallon said, “I’m not sure why it is more common in footballers than in any other sport.
“In my opinion, it happens because of a pre-existing undiagnosed heart condition and the arrest can just be triggered by the exercise (although it can occur at any time even at rest) so it seems.”
“One the thing I find surprising is that some professional athletes do not have regular screening for heart problems throughout their career, that why I have joined this project to help raised awareness and to see how we can find a solution to this, I and my family is in total support of this initiative,” the former AS Monaco striker noted.
According to him, it’s hard to fathom the number of heart attack deaths this year — in the world game we need to act fast and save the lives of others.
Sierra Leone and Genoa midfielder, Rodney Strasser, stressed that the death of Cheik Tiote is an eye-opener for all of us professional footballers, journalists, and doctors to join such a project to save lives on and off the pitch.
“I am pleased to be in solidarity with such a project,” the Genoa Midfielder said.
“For an African footballer, stress seems to be one factor that plays a part in these reoccurring cardiac arrests. The game of football for many, especially for those from poorer backgrounds, is more of a day job than anything. The pressure of providing for their families back in their homelands could take its toll on them.
“Also, with many African nations not having the adequate modern equipment to detect potential heart problems, there is a greater risk of hereditary or developing health issues that don’t get the necessary diagnosis,” Strasser explained.
He added, “With some of these people being footballers or sportsmen playing in Africa or even going to play abroad, especially in more obscure parts of the world, teams in those nations too potentially may not have the ideal equipment such as a defibrillator to detect any heart issues, putting them at an even greater risk.
“But, this could be easily argued in Muamba’s case, who was playing for an established Premier League team with adequate financial stability at the time of his collapsing he pointed.”
Strasser who is in Freetown on holiday said he as an individual and the Rodney Strasser Foundation (RSF) will host football matches around to increase the sensitization about cardiac arrest on football players, we will also be organising health clinic for players within Sierra Leone and the sub-region.
“Losing a player on the pitch to cardiac arrest is very devastating whereas it occurs mostly in football and footballers are the victims which have now become a concern by all the former AC Milan and Parma player noted.
“My foundation will play an active role to educate and support this project to save the lives of fellow soccer players,” he added.
In 2013, FIFA launched the FIFA Medical Emergency Bag and FIFA 11 Steps to prevent sudden cardiac death, giving all 209 FIFA member associations a Medical Emergency Bag (FMEB).
The 11 steps were aimed at raising the level of awareness and appropriate action for all those involved with football internationally. These efforts follow the decision of the FIFA Congress 2012 to provide each of the 209 MAs with an AED as an indication of the importance of the prevention of sudden cardiac death.
“I can’t say if this has helped prevent cardiac arrests in football as a whole. But it does seem to be raising more awareness across the globe about the severity of a cardiac arrest, he pointed out.
Names of some African Football players who are victims of cardiac arrest
Cheikh Tiote, Emmanuel Okwaraji (Nigeria), Amir Angwe (Nigeria)
Hedi Berkhissa (Tunisia), John Ikoroma (Nigeria)
Bobsam Elejiko (Nigeria), Endurance Idahor (Nigeria), Chinonso Ihelwere Henry (Nigeria), Victor Omogbehin (England), Marc-Vivien Foe (Cameroon), Mohammed Abdelwahab (Egypt)
Chaswe Nsofwa (Nigeria), Guy Tchingoma (Gabon), Orobosan Adun (Nigeria), Sekou Camara (Mali), Shetemi Ayetigbo (Ireland) David Oniya (Nigeria), Kodjo Etonam Adjassou (Togo), Bart Opoku (Ghana), Benjamin Owusu (Ghana), Mohamed Lemine M’Boye (Tanzania), Patrick Ekeng (Cameroon), Ambrose Wleh (Liberia)
By Prince Scott in Freetown