This year’s FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa will present the world with a unique opportunity and platform to mount the fight against malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV as well as other health threats to the African continent and in the game of football.
So said chairman of the FIFA Medical committee and FIFA executive member, Michel D’Hooghe, at the start of the third International Football Medicine Conference in Sun City, South Africa today. He further urged delegates to work together in facilitating the programmes to combat such diseases and look closer at injuries.
About 300 sports physicians, physiotherapists and the team physicians of the 32 participating teams are gathering at the majestic and breathtaking Sun City to discuss recommendations on how to prevent injuries and improve the well-being of players.
D’Hooghe said it was important that African football be the biggest benefactor during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “We must use this FIFA World Cup to fight the big three in Africa. We have to fight against malaria, TB and HIV. Those issues have to be fought hard as to help improving the standards of the game in Africa. We are here to learn about Africa, we have to listen to practitioners from this continent and see how best we can exchange ideas for the better of the game.
"We have a strong delegation from all over the African continent and the world including representatives from the 32 participating teams,” explained D’Hooghe. “This means that most of the relevant stakeholders are here. We are trying to bring knowledge to the game, to communicate and discuss the implementation of ideas because it is no good having all the ideas without a good implementation plan.”
FIFA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jiri Dvorak said the conference comes at an important period as Africa prepares for its biggest moment in sport history. He emphasised the importance of using the knowledge acquired during the conference to improve lives of footballers and the standard of the game. “Our biggest goal is to minimise injuries in football. People have to realise that football is a safe sport,” Dvorak said. “The FIFA World Cup is the best opportunity to present football to the world. We have to show that we care for the health of players and improve the standard of the care.”
In order to achieve this goal, F-MARC launched a specific preventive programme named ‘The 11+’ a few years ago. Dr. Astrid Jung presented the audience with captivating results from the increased use of ‘The 11 +,’ which is a complete warm-up programme to prevent injuries.
Earlier in the day, South Africa’s deputy minister of health, Dr. Molefi Sefularo, told delegates that the country has been busy putting all necessary measures to prepare for the tournament to ensure that visitors enjoy quality healthcare in South Africa. “From the side of the government, we have invested in all sectors. We are further pleased by the fact that our assessment of our state of readiness gives us comfort to be able to say we are ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We will deepen our capacity and reduce to the barest minimum any chance that we may be surprised or stretched beyond our capacity as the public and private health sector.”
FIFA medical experts explained that they are impressed by the quality of medical facilities provided by South Africa for players, the football family, the more than 18,000 media representatives expected and the huge number of fans who will travel between venues.