In the wake of the tragic events which saw a young player lose his life on a soccer field, Safa Cape Town (Safa CT) has pledged to increase its safety profile across the local football associations it administers.Saturday 5 October was a dark day for community football when Imtiyaaz Wagiet left home never to return again.Sadly, in a match between Bayview’s u.16 team and Strandfontein, Imtiyaaz collapsed on the field with no medical professional or qualified first aider. According to his coach at Bayview, Mark Rodrigues, he was then loaded into his parent’s car and taken to the nearby fire station.“People tried to resuscitate him. After 10 minutes they took the boy and put him in his parents’ car. They took him to the fire station. At the fire station, they tried their best to keep him alive. He was there for around 10 minutes, but he then passed on,” he says.Two years ago, People’s Post, through their freelance sport photographer Rashied Isaacs, highlighted the dire need for health and safety personnel on community sports fields (“Safety no walk in the park”, 14 February 2017), but with the tragic events at Westridge Oval last month, Isaacs’ worst fears were realised. According to Isaacs, Wagiet’s death once again highlighted the need for thorough emergency planning for all sports and he is determined to bring about change at the different sporting venues, partnering with an accredited company to offer free first aid training for coaches as far back as 2014. Earlier this year, Isaacs refused to attend any more Safa CT events unless they addressed the apparent safety issues which saw Wagiet tragically lose his life.As a result, Safa CT president Bennett Bailey met with Isaacs to discuss his concerns and to pledge their commitment to the safer sports field project. Bailey then committed to introducing a holistic plan around safety for the 70 000 registered players in the 35 local football associations (LFAs) he leads.“We have introduced, at a regional level, a constitutional clause where we refer to our medical officer, who is responsible for safety at our events. That we are going to bring and cascade to a local level, so that there is a pathway from local to provincial to national – that we all speak the same language,” Bailey said, adding that these policies now need to be enforced.“One of the things we are going to start with is to instruct all LFAs to appoint a medical officer in terms of the Safa regional and national constitution,” said Bailey. The new local football season starts in April next year, which is the time earmarked for changes to take effect.Bailey hopes that players and other informal associations follow Safa CT’s suit by placing more importance on safety. “It is like boxing where you cannot start the fight without a paramedic or an ambulance being on-site,” he says, adding that even third division clubs will be able to be trained up in first aid.“We also want the referees to enforce it (safety standards) also, where if there is not a visible first aider present then that game should not start at all,” said Bailey. He adds this is one of the final pieces to Safa CT’s overall puzzle, whereby they seek to improve the level of performances of football players, which in turn will improve the standard of football being played locally.“Part of that process of identifying talent is to get the right athletes – this is where the safety and our medical officer comes in terms of testing. When we test athletes we will look at all areas – the bio-kinetics, nutrition and all the areas necessary – for scientific support, but with it also, the athlete needs to be fit. We cannot send an athlete for provincial training at provincial teams if this person is not fit or healthy,” he said.