Lowestoft area sports clubs’ lifesaving bid

TWO of the Lowestoft area's biggest sports clubs are taking a leading role in the campaign to safeguard their players and the public by investing in life-saving medical equipment.

Just weeks after Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch and almost died, Waveney Youth Football Club and Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club are both raising funds to buy defibrillators.

Waveney Youth, which has more than 40 junior and senior sides, is hoping to raise �1,000 to purchase the life-saving device so that it can be kept at the Barnards Meadow sports ground in Lowestoft .

The defibrillator – which can be used to deliver an electric shock to revive the victim of a cardiac arrest – would be available to its own teams, and to the hundreds of other players who use the pitches.

Club chairman Shane Davey said the fund-raising would begin tomorrow with a raffle and auction at Waveney Youth's annual presentation evening, with prizes donated by parents, supporters and local businesses.

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'This year, following the sad situation with Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, the club has decided the proceeds from this year's raffle will be used to buy a defibrillator for the football club,' he said. 'Waveney prides itself in putting the safety of the children and adults at the club first. This addition will further enhance this.'

Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club – which runs senior and junior sides, a ladies team and mini-rugby youth sides at its base at Gunton Park – is making similar moves. A club spokesman told The Journal: 'With recent publicity surrounding acute cardiac events, especially affecting young athletes, Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club have decided to seek sponsorship for the purchase of a heart defibrillator.'

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Muamba, 24, suffered a heart attack (cardiac arrest) in the first half of Bolton's FA Cup quarter-final tie against Tottenham on March 17 and underwent lengthy treatment on the pitch before being taken to hospital.

Bolton's club doctor later confirmed that the former Arsenal midfielder had received numerous defibrillator shocks both on the pitch and in the ambulance, as his heart had stopped for 78 minutes.

After making an amazing recovery, the England under-21 international was discharged from hospital on April 16, and last Saturday he was a VIP guest of honour at Wembley for the FA Cup final.

Waveney FC is holding its annual presentation evening tomorrow night at the Ocean Room in Gorleston.

Mr Davey said: 'Every year we raise money for a charity. This year, with everything going on, we put this idea (to buy a defibrillator) to the committee as it we felt it was the right time to do something for the club.

'The Fabrice Muamba incident touched everyone – whether you like football or not.'

He said the issue of players' health was also brought home by the tragedies involving Italian footballer Piermario Morosini, 26, who died after collapsing on the pitch while playing for Livorno, and seven-year-old Warrington youngster Ciaran Geddes, who suffered a cardiac arrest while playing football and later died in hospital.

'We want to have something in place if we ever need it – the defibrillator saved Fabrice Muamba's life,' he added.

Mr Davey said that if the club was successful in raising the funds to buy a defibrillator, it would also be available to members of the community who use Barnards Meadow as well as the club's extended family and friends.

'At Barnards Meadow we work in conjunction with Sentinel Leisure Trust, so it will be left in the main building and accessible to the community when others use the facility,' he said.

'We take safety seriously – and if we ever have the need to use the machine for a player, a dad or grandparent watching the match we would have something in place. The funds and raffle prizes we've had so far have been fantastic – it has touched everyone – and I am confident we will raise the money.'

Praising the club's efforts, Phil Knight, Suffolk FA chief executive, said: 'I wholeheartedly support Waveney Youth FC's efforts to raise funds to purchase a club defibrillator. As we have seen recently, pieces of equipment such as these can mean the difference between life and death and anything that makes the game safer must be applauded. 'I hope the fund-raising efforts go well and the initiative is well supported throughout the local playing community.'

? To make a donation or offer a prize for the Waveney Youth's fund-raising raffle, contact the club via www.waveneyyouth.footballclubwebsite.co.uk/contact Anyone interested in sponsoring Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club in its efforts to buy a defribrillator should log on to www.pitchero.com/clubs/lowestoftyarmouth/

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