Six years. That’s how long Zachary Tran’s parents, Jayson and Michelle, had with their son. Two years ago, Zachary died when he was struck on the head with an unanchored soccer goal post.
"Zach was like every 6-year-old child," says Michelle, who lives in Vernon Hills. "He loved to play sports, was very active and loveable."
Zachary is one of more than 30 people killed by unanchored or poorly anchored goal posts since the 1970s. Four children have died in the past year and a half alone. Hundreds more people have been seriously injured over the years.
So last month, the Tran family launched Anchored for Safety, a foundation to educate people about the dangers of unanchored goal posts.
Goals range from 180 to 400 pounds. Zachary weighed 52 pounds. But heavy goals can be made safe with better design, handling, positioning and storage.
"We wanted to start this foundation to help people understand why goals need to be anchored in for everybody’s safety," says Michelle. "We don’t want others to have to go through the pain and agony we did."
The Trans, Zachary’s aunt, Karen Embres, and Major League Soccer All-Star Taylor Twellman, the foundation’s spokesman, also set up a Web site, www.anchoredforsafety.org. "Our long-term solution is to promote goals designed to maximize safety," says Embres.
The Web site gives directions on how to make goals safe. It also demonstrates what can happen if they are not. A video on the site shows how easy it is for a goal to tip over. The film was taken at a soccer camp where instructors placed a watermelon under a soccer goal and tipped it over, exploding the watermelon into pieces. The video is disturbing when you think that a child might have been there in place of the watermelon.
Since 1979, unsecured goal posts have caused more than 120 injuries and 30 deaths of people ranging in age from 3 to 33 years old. Many of the deaths occurred not in games or practices, but when kids were playing around goal posts.
"It’s a way to channel our grief," says Zachary’s mom. "We were very surprised when this happened and were asking why we didn’t know the goals were dangerous."