Building on the success of the first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence on the African continent inaugurated at Wits University in Johannesburg on 31 March 2008, world football's governing body has approved the accreditation of a second institute in Cape Town.
The UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) were officially inaugurated as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence today (24 February 2009) in the presence of the chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) and FIFA Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Jiri Dvorak, the director of the FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence in Cape Town, Prof. Martin Schwellnus, and SSISA Managing Director Morne du Plessis.
"FIFA is committed to improving standards of care in football worldwide, including prevention as a priority, complemented by accurate diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation," said Prof. Dvorak. "FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence like the ESSM/SSISA here in Cape Town ensure this. Furthermore, they educate and train the next generation of practitioners and scientists committed to football medicine in particular on the African continent."
"The relationship between the University of Cape Town, the Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and its medical service providers is a unique model that combines education with current research applied through medical service practitioners," said Du Plessis.
The UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine has a proud history of two decades of active research, education and clinical service to the sporting community, including football. Prof. Schwellnus highlighted the main achievements in these areas by the unit. He indicated that these core activities would form the basis of the centre's future work in football.
Since the end of 2005, FIFA has accredited nine Medical Centres of Excellence across the world from Zurich in Switzerland, Munich and Regensburg in Germany, Auckland in New Zealand, Kawasaki in Japan, Oslo in Norway and Aspetar in Qatar to Johannesburg and now Cape Town in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ host country South Africa. All accredited institutions have been carefully selected based on a comprehensive application process to prove their clinical, educational and research expertise, their practical involvement in the care of teams and their active commitment to preventing injuries.
The vision behind creating a network of medical centres across the world is to ensure that players and teams on all continents know who to turn to for expert care in football medicine.
For further information on the FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence and the F-MARC programme, please click on the links to the right of this story.