WORLD Cup final referee Howard Webb is calling for greater awareness of first aid training for youngsters, after presenting a defibrillator machine to a Rotherham school.
Howard was speaking at Oakwood High School, where his own children are students.
He said his experience of refereeing the match when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a sudden cardiac arrest made him determined to help spread the message of how rapid treatment can be a lifesaver.
Howard said: “Where I referee I’m quite lucky there’s always someone on hand who is medically qualified and can always step in.
“Up and down the country that’s not always the case at grassroots level.
“I understand there can’t be a defibrillator at every location but the more there are the better, particularly at communal pitches where there are lots of games taking place.”
The machine was donated by Rotherham firm Martek Medical with a group of students from the school trained in its use by charity Hand on Heart.
Howard, from Rotherham, who is on FIFA’s shortlist for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said: “I was stunned 12 people under the age of 35 die a week from sudden cardiac arrest.
“It’s about making the kids aware of what to do if something like that should happen, without alarming them.
“The more people are aware at how quick action can save someone’s life, the better. ”