With Euro 2020 finally taking place over the next month, people across Wales are being inspired to get back into the game like their footballing heroes. With restrictions now lifted to allow team sports, one fan from Church Village is looking forward to getting back into exercise following a life-threatening condition last year.
Kevin Martin, 58, suffered a sudden heart attack and cardiac arrest during his weekly five-a-side football game and was resuscitated thanks to the centre’s defibrillator and quick thinking from his teammates.
Following an eight-month recovery period, Kevin, who works as a postal delivery worker, is now returning to sport. Both an avid fan and player, Kevin has been part of a football team for more than 40 years.
Sport Wales’ research suggest that overall, more than half of adults in Wales miss the types of activity they were able to do before the pandemic began with 22% of people aged over 55 having done significantly less exercise throughout the last year. Therefore, Sport Wales has launched a campaign called #BackintheGame with the aim to help people fall in love with sport and exercise again this summer.
Speaking about his last game at Gôl, Kevin said: “I had been playing five-a-side football once a week most of my adult life. That particular day, I felt a bit sluggish but put it down to indigestion. Just before half time I collapsed and crumbled to the ground. I’m told the chaps on the pitch started doing CPR on me immediately and then staff at Gôl managed to get the defibrillator over. These actions saved my life, and I’m forever grateful for it. With my recovery going well, I’m more excited than ever to be able to start slowly getting back in the game.”
Although unable to return to his favourite sport because of his condition, Kevin has been advised to take up a non-contact sport and has joined a tennis club in Pontypridd which still allows him to get back into exercise.
Discussing the return to sport, Sarah Powell, CEO of Sport Wales, said: “We’re thrilled that the Euros are finally happening and can’t wait for them to inspire a nation once again. Just like our male footballers, people across Wales can now get back in the game and enjoy the huge benefits of sport and physical activity. Kevin’s story is an inspiring example of someone who is getting back into physical exercise within their own parameters. At Sport Wales, we’re encouraging people across Wales to get back into the game in their own way, whether that’s being part of a team again, getting out and re-connecting with the local community, achieving that post-exercise feeling or just having fun.”