RIP Ebongo Antoine Bissai

“Humble, shy and perfect” Cameroonian 22-year-old dies on local football field

“Ebongo Antoine Bissai was 22 and studied in Hangzhou. He just came to Shanghai for the holidays after the semester ended and played in the Monday and Wednesday competitions. He planned to come to Shanghai every weekend when the semester starts to play with us.

“He was a great player and I wish we would have had the time to know him better. He appeared to be humble, shy and perfect young man. I will never forget his smile he was wearing every time we met at the football pitch to play the game he loved. Rest in peace Antony!”

Sebastian Magnus Becker, coach of Antoine’s team Shanghai Reunited

***

I’ve seen a lot of things in the 6 years that I’ve played football in Shanghai, but I never saw anyone die, until one of the opposing players died on Monday night after playing a 15 minute game at Luwan Stadium. As I write this, I struggle to get the images out of my mind – the sounds, the sadness, the shock – and try and make some sense of it all.

Ebongo Antoine Bissai, known as Antony, died on Monday July 30 at 11:40 pm in Ruijin hospital from what seems to be heart failure. He was 22 years old. He was from Cameroon. The last thing he did with his life was to score a beautiful goal from 30 yards out, turning a defender with a clever left footed fake, and then rolling the ball to his right and smashing an unstoppable laser into the bottom corner past the keeper’s outstretched hands. He stepped off the pitch, took off his shoes and socks, and then he lay down, in the post game darkness of Luwan Stadium.

One of the girlfriends of the players was the first to point out that Antony was in trouble, asking her boyfriend what was wrong with him, having noticed him lying unmoving on the sideline. We ran and called the police and then there was a moment when we as a group, having just finished playing and were engaging in some post match banter all just stood around looking at his inert body, looking at each other in shocked disbelief, waiting for him to get up, thinking that it was just some sort of seizure or something.

But when we saw he wasn’t moving, wasn’t breathing, one player stepped up and said he knew CPR. Michael of the Shanghai Reunited squad administered CPR and heart massage untiringly throughout the 45 min it took to get an ambulance, while others monitored his vital signs. He had a pulse, weak and intermittent, but a pulse nonetheless, and that gave us hope. So we kept at it, the players, around 20, familiar faces that I see around, some names I know, some not, all sharing in the hope that he would make it.

We watched on, willing Antony to live as we waited for the ambulance to arrive, feelings of frustration starting to surface as the sand slid through the hourglass on Antony’s life, fueled even further by the frustration that Ruijin hospital is literally a 5 minute walk down the road. The ambulance came after 45 min, and after 40 more minutes of trying to revive him he was pronounced dead at 11:40. There were several players that accompanied Antoine to the hospital and we were all in shock. He was one of us.

It slips past many of us expats that the medical care here is quite a bit different to our own countries, and having a medical history that can be accessed can make a big difference, especially when you need it fast. We didn’t know anything about Antoine’s medical history, and we couldn’t get in touch with anyone who did. One of recurring images from last night is Sebastian, the coach of the Shanghai Reunited, on the phone throughout the whole ordeal, trying desperately to find out anything he could about Antoine’s medical history or a number for his parents. It goes without saying that having his medical history would have increased Antony’s chance of survival. So, if you are an expat who is reading this and haven’t shared your details with your emergency contact, perhaps that’s something you could do. Help yourself.

Please remember Antony in your prayers.

More info will me forthcoming concerning his memorial.

Sincerely,

Chris Roberts

Shanghai Fantasy Football

 

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