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By Carlena Knight

“Yearly health checks for athletes needs to be a priority”. This is the stance of one local sporting official, Byron Andrew.

Andrew, who is the 1st Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) and an optometrist by profession, is adamant that the necessity to have athletes do regular health screenings is of utmost importance.

“You can’t really perform to the best of your ability. If you can’t hear, then you can’t follow instructions properly and the thing about it, a lot of young people, because this is the way they are born, they think everybody is like that, so a lot of times they may not tell you that they can’t see or can’t hear or they get tired when they run too much. It’s on the parents now to make sure you do regular health checks,” said Andrew.

His comments stem from recent reports coming out of Jamaica where a youth footballer died following a medical condition that went undetected.

Andrew said not only could these conditions plague our local athletes but it could also evolve into a life and death situation.

He said the responsibility not only lies with parents, but the various associations as well.

“They are the ones who are training them, guiding them so, there’s some responsibility there, too, which has to be taken by the associations to make sure that these kids are healthy in order to perform these higher-level activities.

“Playing sports on an elite level is hard on the body so you have to be concerned about their health all the time and do your yearly checks. There are some things that are very suttle that you won’t be able to pick up right away but there are some that are just blatant,” he added.