Long considered Australia’s sporting capital, Melbourne can now boast the nation’s first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence.
The Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre (OPSMC) was officially inaugurated as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence by FIFA Chief Medical Officer, Prof Jiri Dvorak, at an official ceremony held in Melbourne today.
OPSMC is the first Australian Sports Medicine Centre to receive such an honour and joins a prestigious list of 32 medical centres and clinics worldwide who have also been accredited.
Speaking at the official inauguration ceremony, Prof Dvorak was complimentary of the work that the OPSMC is doing and the reputation that Australian has amongst the international sports medicine community.
“I am very happy to be in Melbourne for the first accredited FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence in Australia. This is a very well established and respected medical institution”, said Prof Dvorak.
“The aim of the worldwide network of FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence is to improve the healthcare of football players and other athletes at every single level of the game through knowledge.
“However the most important objective of the FIFA Medical network including the FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence is to promote the philosophy of prevention and use the power of football to contribute to the improvement of public health to tackle the "Unhealthy trias - fast food, soft drinks and physical inactivita" leading to overweight, diabetes and other NCD's in young adolescents.”
Melbourne is an appropriate location for the nation’s first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence being home to Australia’s largest sporting arena, the location for numerous major international sporting events and boasting Australia’s best supported A-League club, Melbourne Victory. The OPSMC is, appropriately enough, located in the precinct used for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Also present at the inauguration were Football Federation Australia (FFA) director and former Australia goalkeeper Jack Reilly; FFA director, Asian Football Confederation Executive Committee Member and former Australia midfielder Moya Dodd; FFA Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeff Steinweg and Dr Andrew Jowett, Director of the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre and former Socceroos team doctor.
“Australia has a strong knowledge base in sports science and I welcome FIFA’s recognition of the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre,” said Reilly, who kept goal for Australia in their breakthrough appearance at the 1974 FIFA World Cup™. “The development will help Australian football stay at the leading edge of FIFA’s global network of medical expertise.”
OPSMC Director Dr Andrew Jowett was proud that the centre receives accreditation as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence.
“We look forward to working with our partners, FFA and the University of Melbourne in achieving our goals,” he said. “We are excited to further engage our regional neighbours in Asia and Oceania, as well as the wider FIFA network.
“Melbourne holds a proud reputation in the sporting world and OPSMC has been involved in football since our formation 25 years ago including the past two FIFA World Cup campaigns, the 2008 Homeless World Cup and the 2000 Olympic Games. Our three campuses in Melbourne provide a unique opportunity due to the co-existence of four major football codes to share knowledge, experience and improve the care of all footballers through injury prevention, specialist management and rehabilitation."
FFA Head of Medical Services, Dr Jeff Steinweg, also congratulated the OPSMC for receiving such recognition from FIFA. He said: “Through OPSMC and to the benefit of all players, Australia is now a more integral part of FIFA’s worldwide collaboration and cooperation on football health issues and research.”