The inauguration of the first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence on African soil today (31 March 2008) means that football players on the continent will now know whom to turn to for expert care in football medicine. The Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (CESSM) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg was officially inaugurated in the presence of South African Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Raymond Hack, CEO of SAFA, Danny Jordaan, CEO 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, Professor Jiri Dvorak, MD, FIFA Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), Prof. Rob Moore, Wits University Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Advancement and Partnerships and Dr Demitri Constantinou, Director of the CESSM.
"The body of knowledge in football medicine accumulated by FIFA needs to be practically implemented so that African players can fully benefit from state-of-the-art prevention, treatment and rehabilitation," said Professor Dvorak. "We are particularly pleased that the CESSM will ensure this in the host country of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will create a legacy far beyond this event by educating the next generation of African clinical specialists committed to football medicine."
"It is a great honour to have been recognised as a contributor to football medicine locally, on the continent of Africa and internationally", said Dr Constantinou. "I view it also as a catalyst for the centre in the future - in all spheres of football medicine, research and educating health professionals to further develop themselves and to give back to football. The "beautiful game" is a wonderful forum for improving society both physically and psychologically, and for promoting health. We are uniquely placed to have the integration of sport science with medicine, which broadens and strengthens our activities. We look forward to contributing to the visions of FIFA, F-MARC, the centre and the university."
The CESSM has been identified as the Centre of Specialisation for Football by the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the South African Confederation of Sports and the Olympic Committee (SACSOC) . Through the SAFA-Wits project, the centre has contributed considerably to the development of football and has promoted participation, performance and life skills for young players. The team offers laboratory and field testing for individual players and teams, feedback and recommendations for training. Practising a strictly multi-disciplinary approach, it provides treatment as well as comprehensive rehabilitation programmes tailored to individual needs. Currently, the CESSM is planning a study on the feasibility and effect of the new comprehensive warm-up programme of F-MARC, 'The 11+', among disadvantaged South African youth players.
"South Africa is among the world's leaders in the field of sports medicine. The opening of the first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence today is another important milestone in building a legacy beyond 2010 FIFA World Cup," said Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa.
Creating a network of expert centres across the world is part of the strategy of the FIFA Sports Medical Committee to protect players' health and improve the standard of care at all levels of play. Players on all continents need to have access to expert care including not only state-of-the-art diagnosis and therapy services, but, equally importantly, pre-competition medical assessment, prevention of injuries, counselling on nutrition and anti-doping education. All centres must undergo a comprehensive application process based on exacting standards.