Think of your heart before hitting the turf

Turf football has become a much sought-after form of physical activity.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

It has been described as Kerala’s latest sports craze. Turf football, the game played on artificial fields made of synthetic fibre that looks like natural grass, is turning out to be a much sought-after form of physical activity for an average football lover here with arenas coming up even in remote villages.

Health experts, however, urge a bit of caution before hitting the ground. There have been instances of some players dropping dead and many others sustaining serious leg injuries while playing. Just recently, a 52-year-old man from Kozhikode district collapsed and died while playing on a turf field. A similar incident was reported from Wayanad months ago.

“Those who died may have had some undiagnosed cardiac issues or congenital heart problems, symptoms of which may not have shown up earlier. It is better that players undergo periodic health check-ups, at least once in two-three years, to ward off the threat,” Shervin Sheriff, Sports Medicine Physician, Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, said.

A large number of those who take to turf football now may not be full-time players, but enthusiasts who find the atmosphere comfortable and others who might have stopped playing sometime ago. “Even if such people are regular gymnasium goers, they should not start playing one fine day. Echo-cardiogram and electrocardiogram tests and a cardiologist’s fitness certificate should be made mandatory before they go for it. Those aged above 40 should be more careful,” Dr. Sheriff pointed out.


Such a system is right now there in advanced countries such as the United States. Both the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine had recommended cardiovascular screening in older athletes before any vigorous physical activity, he said.

Dr. Sheriff highlighted the need for people trained in basic life support, including the use of Automated External Defibrillator, to be present on the ground too.

Another issue is the increasing number of ligament tear injuries on the knee being reported among people who play turf football.

“At least some of those patients need urgent surgeries. Those setting up the turf may not follow the guidelines issued by the international football governing body, FIFA,” Dr. Sheriff said.

There should be many layers on the ground to ensure the players’ safety. “Many people are found to compromise on this to reduce the cost. While setting up a proper football turf maintaining FIFA guidelines could cost ₹1 crore, there are instances of people doing it for just around ₹20 lakh. It makes a lot of difference in quality,” Dr. Sheriff said.

So, it is better to think of your heart before taking to the turf.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 11:07:10 AM |

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