“This one is tough,” cried St George’s College’s Head Coach Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell as he reacted to news that his captain Dominic James had died while undergoing treatment at University Hospital of the West Indies after collapsing during their ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup match against Excelsior High at Stadium East field yesterday.
James, 18, who was recently invited to Jamaica’s Under-20 set-up, collapsed approximately two minutes into the game while jogging back from an attack by his school.
He remained motionless for a few minutes and was eventually attended to by two medical doctors before being rushed to hospital.
“I think you know the way I coach and I love them so much and again it’s not just about me, it’s about his family, friends, the team,” said a mournful Bell.
Akeem Robotham had given St George’s College a 26th-minute lead but Thorne Buchanan struck twice in the 30th and 38th minutes to give Excelsior High a 2-1 advantage before the game was called off on the stroke of half-time when news of the player’s death had filtered through.
It was an exciting game and was shaping up to be one of the best games of the season between two highly touted teams.
“I thanked the referees for calling the game off. I don’t know if we could have handled it. I don’t know if the Excelsior team could have handled it because they were so very concerned,” said Bell.
“We just prayed that he is close to the Father. We are always told that when you die you are in a better place. I pray that he is with him now,” he added.
St George’s College lead Group A with six points, two ahead of Excelsior on four points in what was a crucial game, as they battle for top honours and a spot in the rich FLOW Super Cup knockout tournament.
“We will obviously have to continue this season; I don’t think we can do anything, but bwoy this one tough,” reiterated Bell.
Shavar Thomas, former national representative and coach of Excelsior High, expressed shock at the passing of James, whom he coached at Waterhouse last season.
“Condolences go out to the George’s team and his family. I know him personally because I worked with him last season at Waterhouse. It’s such a sad moment. It’s tough and we will give St George’s College our shoulders to lean on,” said Thomas, who is a former national captain.
“Most of my players knew Dominic well. They even talked to him on Sunday as we watched the Waterhouse Premier League game and he was there having a chat. I am pretty sure they are very, very torn apart right now,” he added.
Assistant referee Keeble Williams, who was close to James when he collapsed, described what he saw.
“Actually the George’s team had just made an attack on the Excelsior goal. The defenders were coming out and he was actually coming out with the defenders. The ball was played up and I just saw him fall. When he fell, I realised what was happening because there was no one around him to tackle him or anything like that,” said Williams, who immediately called the attention of referee Wilverglen Lamey.
“I saw his actions, I saw his eyes and I immediately waved to the referee whilst calling the technical support and medical people from George’s to get onto the field. Having seen it happen in an international competition already, I kind of knew that was probably that situation that was going to happen again,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Dr Walton Small, president of ISSA, gave his condolences to James’ family and the sporting fraternity while noting that it is impossible to have an ambulance at every game.
“As it relates to the medical protocol [for] all schools you cannot have a match unless there is a school nurse or a doctor. In terms of the presence of ambulance, because of the volume of games that are being played, even if we are to get all the ambulances in Jamaica, we would not be able to cover [all],” Dr Small explained.
“So what we have asked the schools to do is make arrangement with the nearest medical facility so in case of emergency we have indicated to our principals that there should be a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of getting any ambulance or vehicle to hospital,” he said.
According to the president, who is also the principal of Wolmer’s Boys’ School, ISSA is responsible for providing medical assistance when the competition reaches the second round and games are played at venues provided by them.
“We ensure that in the second round there are ambulances as well as the business of the stretchers available to take the injured players from the field. Going forward [we]will insist now that all schools be equipped with stretchers,” said Dr Small.
NEWS SOURCE: Jamaica Observer | Read More Here