Two young football players lost their lives on Saturday during a friendly match in Kisii County, Kenya. Sammy Musa, 20, and Joshua Nyangaresi, 21, were struck by lightning while playing for their respective teams, Manyansi FC and Nyagiti FC.
Two other players were seriously injured but are now in stable condition after being rushed to a hospital in the neighbouring Nyamira County.
“They were playing while it was raining. It is quite unfortunate that they lost their lives while playing a game that they loved most. As federation officials, we say sorry to the affected families,” Mr Akang’a told Nation Sport on phone.
The incident has prompted calls for the installation of lightning arrestors in schools and other public places.
Evans Akang’a, the chairman of the Kitutu Chache North Football Kenya Federation, appealed to the government to take action. He noted that football players frequently use school playgrounds and that such installations could help prevent similar tragedies.
“There is no FIFA law that says play must stop when it is raining, not unless the pitch is soaked with water to a point that players find it difficult to pass the ball. We therefore ask our authorities to ensure lightning arresters are installed in schools, churches and other buildings to reduce such cases from recurring,” the chairman said.
The tragic deaths of Musa and Nyangaresi have deeply saddened their local communities, and many have taken to social media to express their condolences. The football federation has also expressed its sympathies and apologised to the affected families.
The incident has also sparked a debate about the safety of playing football in adverse weather conditions. While there is no FIFA law mandating the cessation of play in the rain, authorities must consider the safety of players and officials. FIFA’s guidelines suggest that referees should suspend play if there is a risk of lightning strikes, and matches should not resume until the danger has passed.
In addition to lightning arrestors, it is also essential that players and officials receive proper education on the dangers of lightning. They must be made aware of the warning signs and know what to do if they find themselves caught in a storm. Clubs and federations must also have emergency plans in place in case of such incidents.