Sports Coaches And Heart Fears | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Sports Coaches And Heart Fears

Posted: Jul 2, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Anthony Nlebem

All over the world, coaching job is one of the most pressured jobs; as surveys have shown that most sports coaches suffered from heart related issues. In recent years, several coaches have been diagnosed of having heart disease as a result of too much pressure that comes with the job. Money spinning sports like football and basketball, where the urgency to get results often times, put the managers on hot seats.

Just recently, two of Nigeria football icons died of heat related issues.

The sudden death of former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, who died after suffering from a cardiac arrest, points to the fact that our coaches need to have regular checks and good healthy lifestyle. Still on the same heart issues, seasoned Nigerian veteran sports coach, Shuaibu Amodu also died few days after Keshi in his sleep.

The death of Stephen Keshi fondly called ‘The Big Boss’ makes it the fifth member from the Golden generation of 1994 squad that won the Nations Cup in Tunisia and also made a good mark at USA 1994 World Cup that have passed on. The likes of: Uche Okafor, Rashidi Yekini, Thompson Oliha, Wilfred Agbonavbare and Stephen Keshi are chronicles of sudden demise of these stars. Coming to the global level, top ranked sports coaches have suffered from this killer heart disease.

Some in the past have suffered from some kind of heart troubles arising from false alarms, lost of consciousness during games or after halftime and minor scares to major heart attacks, especially when their team is not playing well. NBA coach, Sean Rooks, collapsed and died in a restaurant, just hours after a job interview with the New York Knicks. The 46-years old had battled with heart disease before he finally gave up. Former Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp also had a share of heart problems.

In 2011, Redknapp revealed that he suffered chest pains and was struggling to breathe before he was diagnosed of having problems and quickly admitted to hospital for an operation. The English football manager said he had no intention of quitting and would return to work after the operation, but after having two stents inserted to unblock coronary arteries during the heart surgery. In March 2016, Redknapp was appointed manager of Jordan for their country’s qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; he did resume coaching job until after five years and might likely quit the profession anytime soon.

The rate at which heart related issues are increasing, especially in the sports community, calls for an urgent enlightenment on the need to practice a healthy lifestyle and exercise the body regularly.

To overcome this deadly menace, there is need for our medical system to be functional, also we should learn to respect and appreciate our own while they are still alive.

I recalled that, the late Stephen Keshi was owed some months salaries before his death, amid reports on the failure of the Nigeria Football Federation to pay the monthly salaries of past Super Eagles head coaches.

Many of the late members of the 1994 squad and other Nigerian sports legend had died due to frustration and hunger, according to some sports analysts.

Nigerians were surprised to hear that Amodu was owed millions of naira by the Edo State government before his untimely death. There are reports that the late tactician’s demise was as a result of frustration over unpaid allowances by his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who owed him two months salaries and the Edo State government.

It would be recalled that some members of family of the late coach had blamed the state government for his untimely death, lamenting that he died of frustration. These Nigerian ex-internationals paid their dues during their active playing careers and gave their lives for the nation, as some contributed to the growth of football in Nigeria and it’s very painful to hear that they suffered and died of cardiac arrest due to frustration.

For us Nigerians, it’s time we begin treating our indigenous sports coaches with utmost respect, and not always crucify them when they are not performing as expected; a lot of them go through serious psychological and emotional pains in discharging their duties and the best we can do as patriotic citizens is to encourage and not to condemn them.

God Bless Nigeria, God Bless Nigerian sports men and women.