Safety in our stadiums begins with you and me

Kanjuruhan stadium

Discarded shoes are pictured at Kanjuruhan stadium next to graffit that reads "Police - Murder" days after a deadly stampede following a football match in Malang, East Java on October 3, 2022. Anger against police mounted in Indonesia on October 3 after at least 125 people were killed in one of the deadliest disasters in the history of football, when officers fired tear gas in a packed stadium, triggering a stampede.
 

Photo credit: Juni Kriswanto | AFP

What you need to know:

  • We learn everyday and as our hearts go out to Indonesia, every sports enthusiast should remember that safety begins at an individual level.
  • The love for sports – be it football or athletics or rugby – unites us all and thus we should be mindful of our actions when cheering for our heroes lest we jeopardize our safety and that of others around us.

As a stakeholder in the sports industry, let me send my condolences to the family and friends of the approximately 131 people who died in a stadium stampede during a football match in Indonesia over the weekend.

No life is ever worth losing over sports, which in itself is meant to bring joy and pleasure to those involved in it, be it fans or players.

I pray that justice will be accorded to all those affected and that every family will be comforted by the Almighty.

As the investigations into the disaster continue, it is imperative that we draw lessons back home in Kenya as sports administrators.

We need to constantly evaluate and modify – as needed – our logistics for various competitions within the country.

In every sports event, the safety of all those involved should be prioritized to avoid any loss of life or injury or wanton destruction of property.

This calls for close cooperation between all the parties involved in planning for such competitions, such as security agencies, event organisers, Ministry of Sports officials as well as representatives of the participating teams, among others.

This calls for a joint committee that takes into consideration, issues such as, number of fans expected to attend, stadium entry and exit points, number of security officers required, availability of ambulances for any emergencies as well as fire engines.

At Athletics Kenya, we have been privileged to host various local and international competitions, including the AK Track and Field Weekend meetings, World Under-20 Championship and Kip Keino Classic, among others.

We have learnt a lot in the course of preparing for these events as far as organizing an incident-free competitions is concerned.

The Covid-19 pandemic was also an opportunity to improve on event planning to ensure the safety of all those involved.

Social distancing, sanitisation of hands and wearing of face masks were terms all-too familiar to us as we worked to ensure that none of our events acted as a spreader of the virus.

We learn everyday and as our hearts go out to Indonesia, every sports enthusiast should remember that safety begins at an individual level.

The love for sports – be it football or athletics or rugby – unites us all and thus we should be mindful of our actions when cheering for our heroes lest we jeopardize our safety and that of others around us.

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