Soccer – a growing death trap?

Arguably, the just concluded English Premier League (EPL) did not have anything to do with the deaths of young Malawians over the weekend. One died after being knifed by a team mate and another after being badly beaten by marauding students – both issues closely related to the world’s greatest game, soccer!

As Argentinian Carlos Tevez was being reigned in for insulting Manchester United’s coach Sir Alex Ferguson after his new team, Manchester City, won the EPL 2012, a young Malawian soccer player was knifed to death in Balaka district. And as we read on, a student who was part of the fight between two secondary schools is now lying afresh in the grave.

Has Malawian soccer become a death trap for students and young soccer-wannabes alike?

Events surrounding the two deaths may threaten the development of soccer itself, as many youngsters, including parents, will fear for their life. The death of Lewis Mpeta, a form three student at Dedza Secondary School on Tuesday is one worrisome development to the fraternity.

Tevez

Two other students were badly injured and admitted to Dedza District Hospital and about twelve arrested earlier for causing mayhem as they destroyed Umbwi Secondary School property.

Dominique Nyasulu, an avid soccer fan based in Area 25 in the capital city, Lilongwe, said youth are supposed to coexist and dream ahead and not kill each other in the name of sporting competition.

“I suppose this will be a lesson enough for students to refrain from soccer and any sport related violence. Death is only a breath away and people must learn to respect each other,” he said.

Painful is also the fact that investigations are still underway, as Dedza Police Spokesperson Edward Kabango said no arrests have been in connection with the death. The dead boy’s school attacked victors Umbwi, in a show of protest over their match loss.

A number of students will, after the investigations, lose out on their all-important education prospects when arrest start to take place. All for soccer lunacy Kamuzu Central Hospital played route for the unfortunate departed.

The Lilongwe bred form 3 student from T/A Mazengera is a big loss to the family and the nation, not to mention the school. The injured, lucky but unfortunate, are Ken, Josie and Yamikani from Machinga.

They might have survived but their friend died in a ‘bout’ only their fellow school initiators can best explain why!

In Balaka a 21 year old footballer who refused to be cautioned for unruly behaviour and was suspended from a possible match, took matters in his hand and drove a knife into a team colleague, who died later.

There has been big outcry on the social media on the events, one saying his uncle was at Umbwi and the two schools were already fighting then just as was the case when he was also there about
eight-years ago.

“There is need to completely change the students at this school and bring in fresh ones. Let the schools start with a fresh form one intake next year,” he wrote on Facebook.

“This is bad. Sports exist to bring oneness between schools and not killing each other. I think school officials who know the history here should not have arranged this game in the first place. Now a life has been claimed,” lamented another.

Government should start turning one of these schools into an all-girls school and this violence will stop, suggested another.

But whatever it takes, lives have been lost and people will be arrested. Malawi’s soccer trends seem to be going the wrong way. Hooliganism, as may have been portrayed by the big screens of EPL, Latin America and Spain now seem to be fast catching up with peaceful soccer loving Malawians.

Last week will go down in the history of the country, whose team and flag bearers, the Flames, seem also to have lost much burning power, as the deadliest in local soccer history.

The question is, will Malawian parents let their children attend to secondary school sports games and or indeed join teams when they know it is fast become a death trap?

And as Tevez wrongly screamed on his placard ‘RIP Fergie’, I believe most Malawians.

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