Published: 12:54, 16 June 2021
| Updated: 15:41, 16 June 2021
A football academy boss admits Christian Eriksen’s collapse was a wake-up call and has vowed to get defibrillators.
The world held its breath on Saturday, including those at the Kent-based academy, when the ex-Tottenham Hotspur player went down on the pitch during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 match against Finland, having suffered a cardiac arrest.
The Inter Milan midfielder, who medics later said had “gone”, was brought back through a combination of CPR and an electric shock from a defibrillator.
The 29-year-old is now in a stable condition in a Copenhagen hospital.
EMC Academy set up a GoFundMe page on Tuesday in the hope of raising £6,000.
It aims to raise enough so each coach can carry a defibrillator for every age-group across the academy.
Mr Elwood had managed the academy at Tonbridge Angels FC, where tragedy struck in 2015 when 24-year-old trialist Junior Dian collapsed and died from a heart problem.
Then, in 2019, Charlie Slocombe, a former Tonbridge player, also died after collapsing on the pitch in a six-a-side game. He was 25.
“It is something that, really, we feel like we need to be doing to keep the kids safe,” Mr Elwood said.
“We saw what happened on Saturday and it was probably a little bit of a wake-up call, to be honest.
“We just need to do everything we can to keep the lads we have got safe and it is a no-brainer.
“We spoke to a few of our parents who said they would be happy to help, and we are trying to do everything we can to get it in place as soon as possible.”
“I didn’t actually know Junior. But I saw how much it hit everyone,” said Mr Elwood.
“To be honest, it was quite a shock. A lot of the young lads I was working with at the time, or some I had previously coached, were at that game.
“I remember speaking to them after. It was such a shock.
“As horrible as it sounds, it is something that we have got to be aware of.”
"I didn't actually know Junior. But I saw how much it hit everyone..."
The academy, which caters for 350 players from the ages of four to 19, runs out of South Park Astro in Maidstone’s Armstrong Road, Hawkenbury Astro in Tunbridge Wells and Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood.
Mr Elwood, who runs the football school alongside Whitehawk FC player Henry Muggeridge, says he looked into doing heart screening for players last year but this wasn’t possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He admits the response to their fundraising efforts has been superb.
“It has been amazing. Our parents are fantastic,” he said.
“We do all we can to look after their kids. We do say that we are a little bit like a family as an academy.
“The parents have just responded straight away. We have got some great sponsors as well, who have also started things off really quickly.
“We want to have something for all of our centres and all of our older age-group kids as well.
“It is really important to us that we have multiple sources of this.
“If we are going to do it, it has got to be right across the board for the whole academy, particularly those who are at risk.”
The academy runs a post-16 scholarship programme where players live the life of professional players and train on a full-time basis.
One of their players, Motiejus Burba, has already moved to Lithuania and helped FK Žalgiris win their domestic Premier League title.
To donate to the fundraiser, click here