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How SAFA deals with medical emergencies at amateur leagues

SAFA Chief Medical Officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya says there has been a decline in medical emergencies at amateur level in recent times due to the strict measures they have in place.

It is common knowledge that clubs at SAFA leagues and most Hollywoodbets Super League are unable to outsource medical personnel due to limited financial resources.

Football players all over the world collapse from time to time due to various reasons. There was also a scare recently during the Nedbank Cup last 16 match between Orlando Pirates and Hungry Lions at Orlando when Makhehlene Makhaula collapsed and the medical teams were in place to take care of the situation.

But it’s extremely difficult that a SAFA amateur or a Hollywoodbets Super League club would afford the same medical teams, raising a question on how they would deal with such situations.


“With our SAFA Leagues because of the financial implications, we have made it compulsory that each and every player needs to do thorough medical training during pre-season,” Ngwenya told FARPost.

“This also includes an ECG [electrocardiogram] at the SAFA league and Hollywoodbets, it’s a basic requirement. That is the first step because we believe that prevention is better than cure. So if you have done thorough medicals then you have reduced the risk significantly but it is not totally eliminated.

“Over and about that, for each and every game, we should have an ambulance that is present. For us to be able to manage medical emergencies,” he explained.

Dr Thulani Ngwenya explains how SAFA deal with medical emergencies at amateur leagues
Dr Thulani Ngwenya

“But over and above that we are also saying, the hosting team needs to arrange with the local clinic or local hospital. To say ‘we have a match and if we do have an emergency, we may need to come’.

“So Hospitals are okay with such an arrangement. But because of the resources unfortunately hospitals can not deploy personnel to games because of resources. But each team must have at least a Doctor so that whenever there are issues of that particular team atleast a Doctor can take care of the players.”


“What is good is that in the previous seasons, we have had incidents of collapse, especially younger athletes. But the rate of collapse has since gone down significantly. You would be surprised that at SAFA leagues we have had more games and more teams participating in each region. But the collapse is significantly low as compared to the professional league,” he said.

“The biggest challenge has been the issue of resources. But because we are firm on that. Even when they are doing registrations they can’t be registered if they don’t have that medical form.

“So if they don’t have a medical clearance they can’t. We know other teams would be naughty and go to a Dr Thulani to fill in the forms. Even though a player has not been assessed. But if a Dr puts a stamp on the form, it means that if anything happens to that athlete, the Doctor is liable. Then we can report them to the authorities.”

RELATED STORY: Relief for Pirates as Makhaula recovers from health scare

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