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Talented youngster’s death shocks basketball community

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Young basketballer Khiev Chanraksmey poses with the Cambodian Basketball League trophy in 2015. Supplied

Talented youngster’s death shocks basketball community

Basketball communities in Phnom Penh and the rest of the country have been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of 21-year-old player Khiev Chanraksmey in his sleep three weeks ago, due to what informed sources claimed was cardiac arrest.

Deepening the sorrow surrounding his death was the fact that earlier on the fateful day Chanraksmey had enjoyed a game of basketball with his friends.

In the wake of this tragedy, basketball circles are now pushing hard for measures to monitor the vital signs of players and lend assistance to those who may have pre-existing conditions but continue to pursue their passion for the game.

As one sports analyst put it: “Medical attention for players from either the clubs they represent or the federation in general has not been prioritised, not only in basketball but in many other team sports. As painful as it is to say, I hope a tragedy like this will lead the powers that be to open their eyes and prevent similar occurrences in the future.”

According to former Extra Joss Fighters player and marketing manager of the Cambodian Basketball Federation Ken Gadaffi, Chanraksmey was a talented player prominent in the national reckoning having been part of Cambodian Basketballball League-winning Mekong Tigers in 2015 in his late teens.

He turned out for the Blue Tigers the following season.

The 6ft, 5in Chanraksmey holds the record of being the only Cambodian player to “dunk” in the CBL, and he was part of the new generation of players the federation had in its sights for developing a strong team as Cambodia builds towards hosting the 2023 SEA Games.

Secretary-general of the CBF Kao Kanaly along with members of the national basketball team presented 2 million riel on behalf of the federation to the bereaved family.

Sean Borath, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, CBF President Sean Borath and Ouk Sethycheat, the General Director of the Department of Sports, conveyed their condolences to the family of Chanraksmey, whose untimely death brought back sad memories of national team member Phal Sorphor, who was killed in a motorcycle accident just days before he was scheduled to leave for the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

Much in the way Chanraksmey spent his time on the court playing the game he loved until just hours before his death, Sorphor, who sported the No5 shirt for Cambodia, had just returned from China, where the national team had taken part in the 4th China-Asean invitational tournament.

He was on his way to Prey Veng province to seek the blessings of his family before leaving for Indonesia.

Not in vain

Sean Borath, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, CBF President Sean Borath and Ouk Sethycheat, the General Director of the Department of Sports, conveyed their condolences to the family of Chanraksmey, whose untimely death brought back sad memories of national team member Phal Sorphor, who was killed in a motorcycle accident just days before he was scheduled to leave for the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

Much in the way Chanraksmey spent his time on the court playing the game he loved until just hours before his death, Sorphor, who sported the No5 shirt for Cambodia, had just returned from China, where the national team had taken part in the 4th China-Asean invitational tournament.

He was on his way to Prey Veng province to seek the blessings of his family before leaving for Indonesia.

While the inexplicable deaths of young sports men and women around the world are not uncommon, every such incident heightens concerns about health monitoring and reminds sports fraternities of the wisdom of an ounce of prevention outweighing a pound of cure.

It is in this sad context that Nigerian footballer Mene Wilson has to be remembered forever by the Cambodian football community.

In his death on the pitch, apparently after suffering a heart attack playing for the now defunct Prek Pra Keila FC 26 minutes into their match with the then Military Police-side Preah Khan Reach on May 8, 2010, the 18-year-old Wilson forced reforms in the way pitchside medical emergencies are dealt with today.

On the day he collapsed it took a long time for an ambulance to take him to hospital, but today there is one on standby at the stadium. There is also a doctor on hand, something tragically unavailable to Wilson on that ill-fated evening.

He is resting in peace in Cambodia – but his death has not been in vain.

Chanraksmey was among a new generation of players the Cambodian Basketball Federation had in its sights for developing a strong team as the Kingdom builds towards hosting the 2023 SEA Games. Supplied
Chanraksmey was among a new generation of players the Cambodian Basketball Federation had in its sights for developing a strong team as the Kingdom builds towards hosting the 2023 SEA Games.

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