“It’s madness how grassroots get nothing!” Astley Mulholland, the man campaigning for defibrillators at every football match

Eriksen collapse: A penny drop moment?

It shouldn’t take an incident which causes great fear and worry for action to be taken but so often that is the case. Christian Eriksen collapsed in the Denmark match vs Finland in which the former Spurs man fought for his life and required the help of a defibrillator to save it.

Eriksen has since spoken from hospital and posted letting people around the world know he is recovering.

However, Eriksen was fortunate to have such immediate care to save his life. Others at much lower levels of football, other sports and activities around the world have not been able to recieve the same rapid care.

Astley Mulholland speaks to 101

Astley Mulholland, a non-league footballer for Trafford FC, is campaigning for all clubs from the highest level to the lowest to have access to defibrillators.

Astley lost his brother to a cardiac arrest whilst he was playing 5-a-side football. Speaking with 101, Astley explained what happened and the mission he is now on.

“My brother went to play football with his mates, 5-a-side. He, like Eriksen, just collapsed. You’re not expecting it, there’s no one you can blame when they come back and tell you that it is just natural causes,” he said.

“It can happen to anyone, so I am trying to put stuff out there, raise awareness and get the backing and the funding for the right training, CPR and for defibrillators to get to grassroots.”

During the match when Eriksen collapsed, Astley witnessed what brought back a lot of the memories and he took to Twitter to reinstate his message at such a pivotal time.

We asked Astley what was going through his head when he saw Eriksen’s situation:

“I mean it was bad. It brings it back; you get this feeling in your stomach. I felt sick. I was teary-eyed, I was upset and was quiet for a good while just watching it. It was shocking. 

“To see him make a recovery and to see the pictures on social media that he was awake was pleasing to see.”

Eriksen’s situation seems to have been a penny drop moment and made people remember previous incidents such as Fabrice Muamba.

Astley says hopefully more people can see that it doesn’t matter whether you’re one of the fittest people on the planet, it can happen to anyone and the equipment to save everyone should be available.

“It has opened a few people’s eyes because it has happened to a high-profile player like Eriksen who is running 10-12km per game. He eats the right things, he drinks the right things. He’s fit,” said Astley.

“I think now people are starting to wake up and think, my son or daughter goes out and plays sport. Things do need to change and they do.”

“It’s madness how grassroots get nothing!” Astley Mulholland, the man campaigning for defibrillators at every football match

BOLTON, ENGLAND – MAY 02: Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers waves to the crowd prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at the Reebok Stadium on May 2, 2012 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Astley highlights the importance of the time involved in increasing the chance of someone’s survival.

“If you have got one to hand, pitch side, there is a 90% chance of survival. It goes from performing CPR at 6% to having a defibrillator, even if it is coming from further away, to ~74%,” quoted Astley.

“It all boils down to time. The longer the wait for the defib, the less the chance of survival.”

As is with football and life, much of the world’s issues revolve around money. However, when it comes to a person’s life, is there any price you can put on that?

Astley raises the important point that regardless of the cost of a defibrillator, the FA’s charging of fines for red and yellow cards could be used to fund important life-saving equipment for clubs, parks, and grounds.

“It stems from the top and filtering some money down for grassroots. Give some back,” says Astley.

“You’ve got your Sunday League teams paying fines. Paying yellow cards, paying red cards. They are just playing the game they love. Yes, it is part of the game, yellow and red cards but let them have some money back. Give some money back to the clubs and buy them some defibrillators.”

The campaign on the rise

Astley has seen a huge amount of support rise after the Eriksen incident. England international Jesse Lingard quoted his tweet including the link to the campaign and joined the cause.

Astley is looking to get 100,000 signatures to take the issue to Parliament to discuss the issue and take it to the next stage.

“It is,” Astley said when asked how good it is to see Lingard support the cause. “If he’s tweeting about it and it’s reached him and he believes in it, I am sure other footballers do too. We’ve all played grassroots, every one of us have played grassroots. We know the facilities are not the best, or they’ve not got the best stuff.

“It might just be a bucket and sponge; it was in my day. Again, it is brilliant to see him behind it.”

There is always a focus on money behind any campaign, but Astley reiterates that what is most important to him is the signatures and the awareness needed to help get things moving with this.

“I’m not out to build any business, I am trying to get the signatures. The signatures are crucial and any money that comes in from this will be distributed to get defibrillators,” explained Astley.

“Let’s sit down with the FA and let’s put a real good plan together. Start basic CPR training at all clubs, so a CPR person, or two, trained personnel are at every club and get defibrillators out to as many clubs as possible.”

Shockingly, it is optional for clubs at the lower levels to have the equipment and training to deal with these life-threatening events.

Astley is working hard to change this and we at 101 support this cause. If you would like to help support Astley with a signature then please click HERE to do so.

You can also watch the full interview with Astley below:

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17-year-old arrested after smashing football club defibrillator kit hours after Eriksen collapse