Goal fatality — clubs urged to heed dangers

No one ever worried a whole lot about the movable soccer goal which stood in a field next to Elm Tree Elementary school in Arkansas.

Not until it fell over and killed nine-year-old fourth grader Jonathan Nelson during last recess of a recent school day.

The goal was used every day and was part of the playground. It was believed to be around 15-years-old.

An investigation into the tragic incident on January 26 is ongoing but police and administrators confirmed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the goal was not anchored, while parents told a local TV station that some children were leaning against the goal when it fell over and hit the young boy in the head.

There have been 36 known and reported deaths in the United States from injuries sustained by soccer goals since 1979. During that time, players in Lafayette, Indiana and Bardstown, Kentucky have sustained serious injuries.

Most times it is because the goals have not been anchored securely enough. One such tragic incident in Illinois in 2003 resulted in the Tran family setting up a nationwide initiative that has helped raise awareness of the issue. 

Zachary Tran

Michelle Tran remembers the day her six-year-old son Zachary, who was a member of the Maroon Raccoons in Greater Libertyville, died as vividly as it were yesterday.

“It was my turn for the soccer run and I drove Zack and two friends to soccer practice,” she recalled in an interview with Kick It in 2007. “They ran out to their coach on the field and one little boy needed to use the restroom, so I took him. When I came back out, I saw the goal post over Zack and another boy had his leg stuck under it. Nobody really knows how it happened.”

She said that had the goal that fell on him during practice been properly secured or designed to be tip resistant, Zachary would be alive today.

“I had no idea a goal could be so dangerous,” she said. “Some people commented, ‘what a freak accident,’ but these goals are accidents waiting to happen – there is nothing freak about them.”

For full story, see The Evening News & The Tribune.

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