Report by Terence Lee / Photo by Damien Chng
IT WAS meant to be a momentous Sunday morning for the organisers and the people they were supporting - the homeless Singaporeans.
But things took a tragic turn when Muhamad Nasri Kasbari, 25, collapsed on the field during a match for Team Hope.
He later died on Sunday afternoon at Tan Tock Seng hospital where he had been brought to.
(Photo: Nasri, wearing a blue jersey, died in Tan Tock Seng Hospital at about 1.22pm.)
Team Hope is New Hope Community Services' (NHCS) project of providing homeless Singaporeans a means to re-build their lives through football. For the players of the team, NHCS provides programmes for family-bonding for the players and their families and it provides counseling as well, amongst other initiatives. Team Hope is inspired by the Homeless World Cup, an annual global football competition where as many as 50 countries have taken part.
The official launch of Team Hope was held at the Woodlands Sports Stadium, with Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, as guest of honour. It was then followed by the team's first game - a friendly match against a Mediacorp celebrity team.
The proceedings went smoothly, and the 200 people in the crowd, which included spouses and children of the players, waited in anticipation of the match as the players were kitted out in brand new jerseys and boots.
At about 11.15am, the match went underway. The first half was keenly contested, with the amateurs from Team Hope putting up a surprisingly cohesive display. 10 minutes into the second half, however, tragedy struck. Team Hope’s goalkeeper, Muhamad Nasri Kasbari, suddenly collapsed on the field. The game was stopped immediately and medics attended to him, giving him resuscitative medical attention, including CPR.
A little while later, an ambulance arrived and ferried Muhamad Nasri to the Tan Tock Seng hospital. Unfortunately, at about 1.22pm, he was pronounced dead. In a statement to the press, New Hope Community Services (NHCS) said the cause of Muhamad Nasri’s death was identified as cardiorespiratory failure.
Teammate Mohd Shah, a 42-year-old odd job worker, said that Muhamad Nasri appeared fit throughout the match.
"During the first half, he looked fine, [and he] enjoyed the game very much," Mohd Shah told The Online Citizen. "He looked very cheerful."
Englishman Mark Colbridge, a 34-year-old regional manager, and his wife were there as volunteers for the event. When Mr Colbridge saw the players rush over to Muhamad Nasri on the field, he initially thought nothing of it.
"They were putting up umbrellas and fanning him, and I thought he probably hurt his ankle," said Mr Colbridge.
For the organisers, "the death has put a sad note to an otherwise great event," said Pastor Andrew Khoo, chairman of the Team Hope committee. Even though the weather was scorching, he felt that Mr Rahmat Hashim, the team manager and coach for the team on Sunday, had taken every precaution possible -- including giving proper briefings, a half hour warm-up session for the players before the match and hydration regimes for the players.
Mr Rahmat had advised the players not to push themselves too hard as this was only the team’s first match. During the game, Mr Rahmat substituted the players regularly, giving all of the 19 players on his team a chance to play in the game.
"When something like this happens," Pastor Khoo says, "we learn a lesson and try to do it better by putting in more safeguards. But we also want to be careful not to overdo it."
His immediate concern now is the welfare of Muhamad Nasri's wife and her three children.
The president of NHCS, Pastor Neo Ban It, and committee members of Team Hope attended the funeral of Muhamad Nasri on Monday.
In its statement, NHCS said, “New Hope Community Services continues to support Muhamad Nasri’s family through this period of bereavement. Our thoughts are with his wife and children, who have requested for privacy during this difficult time.”
*Additional reporting by Andrew Loh.
Press statement from New Hope Community Services:
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Muhamad Nasri Kasbari.
Muhamad Nasri was a resident at a shelter for the homeless run by New Hope Community Services.
On Sunday, 18 October 2009, Muhamad Nasri took part in a friendly match at the official launch of Team Hope, New Hope’s football team for homeless people. The event was held at Woodlands Sports Stadium. During the second half of the match, Muhamad Nasri, who was playing goalkeeper, suddenly collapsed on the pitch at 12.10 pm. He received immediate resuscitative treatment from several trained medics who were standing by. An ambulance arrived at 12.25 pm and he was then taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for further treatment.
Muhamad Nasri was pronounced dead at 1.22 pm. The cause of death was identified as cardiorespiratory failure.
He was 25 years old.
New Hope Community Services continues to support Muhamad Nasri’s family through this period of bereavement. Our thoughts are with his wife and children, who have requested for privacy during this difficult time.
The Online Citizen expresses its deepest condolences to Muhamad Nasri Kasbari's family.