Nayland College player Bjorn van Ginkel will miss the national tournament after rupturing his spleen during a first division game this season. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Freak accident ends hopes for nationals


A Nayland College football player could have died had he played the final national secondary schools qualifier last month.

Bjorn van Ginkel, a centre back in his final year of secondary school, was struck in the abdomen twice by an oncoming kick during a first division match for his club side QSP Richmond Athletic, rupturing his spleen and causing internal bleeding.

The 17 year old hit the ground in agony following the second shot. When the pain continued, he was taken to hospital by the father of one of his opponents.

But a long wait in A&E resulted in misdiagnosis. Bjorn was told he was just suffering from muscle pain and sent home.

Three days later and the young football player had not been to school. He couldn’t even leave his bed, because of the pain. So he decided to visit the local GP, who signed off a letter that he must undergo a CT scan at Nelson Hospital.

The CT scan showed that, Bjorn – who was contemplating kitting up for the school’s must win nationals qualifier against Nelson College the next day despite the pain – had ruptured his spleen and another strike to the abdomen could have killed him.

“If I had played in that game I could have died. I was bleeding internally and if I had done anything else it could have got way worse, it could have ruptured the whole thing,” he says.

“If I had played another game and anything had hit me there I would have died.”

The three month recovery process is a patient one.

Bjorn will miss the final rounds of the Nelson Pine Industries first division and also his last chance at winning the Lotto Premier New Zealand Secondary Schools Football Championship, having been a reserve in the squad that finished second place in 2010.

Other than running on a treadmill, all physical activity will be off-limits.

“It will heal itself at my age but I had to get heaps of vaccinations so I don’t get sick. I’m definitely out for nationals. I’ve played my last game for Nayland, so that sucks,” he says.

Bjorn will now assist the coaching set up for the school’s nationals campaign but is hoping to return to the football pitch for the South Island Under-19 Championship in October, which is being held in Christchurch.