Bangalore, Mar 22 (DHNS): Positioned near the rival goal in the dying minutes of his team’s “A” Division league match against SouthWestern Railway, little did Venkatesh Dhanraj know that the final whistle was seconds away. Fans, friends, team-mates and opponents could only watch in horror as the Bangalore Mars’ forward collapsed and slipped to death on Wednesday, shocking Bangalore’s football fraternity.
Venkatesh, 22, was poised to trap a pass when he slumped on the artifical turf at the Bangalore Football Stadium. Stunned team-mates and officials quickly tried to revive him but with no medical facilities at the ground, they could do little. He was taken to HOSMAT Hospital, where he was declared “brought dead.”
“His pulse was missing. So we tried to resuscitate him and gave him a DC shock (electrical stimulation of the heart), but it did not work,’’ HOSMAT, Vice-President Dr Ajith Benedict Royan said. The body was taken to Bowring Hospital for post-mortem and police said initial reports suggested that cardiac arrest was the cause of death.
The Super Division match that kicked off soon after the “A” Division game had to be called off as news of the death trickled in, triggering unrest in the stands, with fans throwing chairs on to the pitch. They were upset over the lack of medical facilities at the ground, with just a physio to attend on players.
“There was no ambulance. We carried the body out on a stretcher and took an autorickshaw after waiting for a couple of minutes,’’ Roy, a spectator, said.
Venkatesh’s father, Dhanraj, who works at the 515 Army Base Workshop, said his son had no health issues. “He was absolutely fine,’’ said a grief-stricken Dhanraj, blaming the authorities for lack of medical facilities.
The scenario was similar to another incident that hit Indian football a few years ago at a venue close to the football stadium. On December 5, 2004, Cristiano Junior, Dempo Sports Club’s Brazilian striker, collided with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Pal to stagger away and collapse to death.
Last year, Arun Kumar, Hindustan Aeronautic Sports Club’s reserve goalkeeper, died following a heart attack in Bangalore while training, joining a long list of footballers who have succumbed to heart ailments.
Shocked team-mates said “We really don’t understand how it happened. There was nothing wrong with his health." “He was taken aside and given a key to hold as we felt he had an attack of fits. There was no ambulance around but we gave him some basic first aid," said Janardhan, a team mate.