The football fraternity and Ghanaians especially were caught unaware by the sudden death of former Black Stars striker Raphael Dwamena in line of duty yesterday, playing for his club in Albania.
In fact, Dwamena was notified on many occasions about his heart condition and of course the implication of continuing with his football career. Lots of clubs turned down the decision of signing him due to the medical report attached to his heart condition.
Dwamena was a passionate and an ambitious African who wanted success and prosperity through his profession. He saw the signs, was aware of his diagnosis but had strange faith in the fact that he can overcome this heinous health implication and continue with the career he has longed for since he entered this world.
In other sports especially boxing, when an athlete is diagnosed with a health issue detrimental to himself/herself and had the tendency of bringing the sport into disrepute, the athlete is not guaranteed a license to fight anywhere. The boxing governing bodies make sure the affected boxer does not fight on any ticket anywhere unless maybe exhibition bouts which are not under strict boxing rules.
This is not so in football. In football it is the country which enforces it jurisdictional laws on whether or not to allow a health related diagnosed players to play.
I verily agree that Dwamena read the writings on the wall and knew the consequences of his continuous pursuance of representing a profession that has blacklisted him due to his own prevailing health circumstance.
It is therefore the responsibility of the football governing body, FIFA to enact a law prohibiting any country affiliated to it on allowing a player diagnosed of a life threatening health issue. The Albania Football Federation must also be held responsible for this unfortunate incident. How can you have a regime that accept players with serious health problems attached to them to ply their trade especially when other countries have restricted Dwamena from playing on same health grounds.
FIFA must take steps just as they did in the case of Marc Vivien Foe’s death on the pitch while playing in the FIFA Confederations Cup for Cameroon. FIFA must enforce every law regarding health issues which is death taking just as they did in the case of doping where players are banned and are not allowed to participate in any FIFA related activity including leagues in countries that are affiliated to FIFA.
I repeat, don’t blame Dwamena. He had family and multitudes to feed. He would have been called a failure or lazy depending on where he comes from if he had stopped playing. Maybe also he wanted to live a life where history will record that he tried, he wanted to conquer his fear and defy faith and live a legacy that says ‘there lived a Dwamena who never gave up despite the overwhelming implications’.
Rest well Dwamena, just like Achebe said in his book “Things Fall Apart”, a man cannot wrestle with his chi” .to wit, man cannot fight his soul. Till we meet again. You came, you saw but you couldn’t conquer.
The writer Albert Kotey is a Ghanaian Sports journalist and football scout.