As result of recent collaborative work between the Football Association of Wales and the Cardiff School of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University the Welsh Football Medicine Institute has been created to manage and provide a range of sports medicine services to footballers of all ages, abilities and genders across Wales. The Institute has been accredited as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence and in so doing has become the first such Centre in the UK.
The Welsh Football Medicine Institute (WFMI) is a partnership between the Football Association of Wales and the Cardiff Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre (opened by Carwyn Jones in January 2011) at Cardiff Met. It was created to service the needs of the Welsh football family and the services offered to players and clubs are co-ordinated through the Institute.
The FAW and its partners have identified injury prevention and the health and wellbeing of football players of all ages and levels across Wales as key strategic priorities and as such the Institute’s aim is to co-ordinate and provide sports medicine and science services, education and research to male and female footballers of all levels across the country.
FIFA wants players of all levels and standards to have access to expert help and education regarding their health and wellbeing and thus, when players are injured, returning to fitness as soon as possible is a priority. This process needs to be monitored and controlled to prevent re-injury as a result of returning too soon, and good sports medicine support allows players to return after appropriate recovery to ensure they can enjoy playing for many more years.
Optimum care for football players requires a lot of experience not only in state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of injuries, but also in recovery planning and aftercare. Further, expertise in prevention of injuries and disease, mental training, diet as well as in anti-doping matters is needed.
FIFA therefore accredits established Centres that have demonstrated their leadership in football medicine. These Centres offer a team of specialists from different fields working together to protect players’ health and wellbeing. All Centres have to undergo a strict selection process. Accreditation is granted for a period of five years during which all Centres report annually on their activities.
Andy Miles, Director of Enterprise at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Cardiff School of Sport, said: “This is another remarkable first for Cardiff Met. We’re delighted that the Welsh Football Medicine Institute has become the UK’s first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence. It’s a high accolade and one that will help attract more positive attention to the Cardiff Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre along with high quality students, staff and associates.
“The WFMI was created to service the needs of the Welsh football family and this new step illustrates that the health of the nation's football playing public is a key concern for the FAW and Cardiff Met. Cardiff Met has a proud sporting history and having a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence here can only strengthen our vision for the future.”
Jonathan Ford, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Wales, responded:
“We have an excellent relationship with Cardiff Metropolitan University School of Sport and we’re proud to have worked alongside them on this project. This is yet another example of a world class sporting and medical facility coming to Wales. The selection process is tough and the fact that this is the first such facility in the United Kingdom is a tremendous achievement for all concerned.”
FIFA Chief Medical Officer, Jiri Dvorak, added: “I am very happy to be in Cardiff for the first accredited FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence in Great Britain. This is a very well established and respected medical institution. I am really looking forward to working together with the Football Association of Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan University, particularly on FIFA’s 11+ programme at the grassroots level in Wales. The Welsh Football Medical Institute, with its specific focus on football medicine is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.”