Challenges of International Football stay multiple. Playing three matches in five days in such a high-intensity Tournament such as the AFC Challenge Cup is bound to have a toll on the players. Hence, it’s imperative the footballers recover fast. Medical Science points to it, Wim Koevermans understands it; the Medical Staff works 24×7 to ensure it’s done.
“Recovery means getting a player fit for the next training session and for the next match,” Dr. Manabendra Bhattacharyya, Consultant, Sports Medicine, AIFF, informs. “You require adequate food, time and rest to recover fast; and along with that hydration.”
“Players lose a lot of fluid from the body during the 90 minutes of the match and they need to be re-hydrated again,” Bhattacharyya says.
The Medical staff made it a point to measure the weights of every player prior to the Chinese Taipei match and the same process was repeated the next day morning. “In a single match, a player may lose 4 to 6 kilos of body weight depending on the workload and the kms run during the match. This has to be replenished the next day. It’s urgent,” Bhattacharyya adds.
“Apart from this, we also have ice-baths immediately after every practice session. Ice-batch helps in draining out the metabolic waste products and facilitates quicker recovery,” he pronounces.
For a team which travels to different destinations, arranging for an ice-bath stays, perhaps, the biggest challenge for Team Manager Srinivas Murthy. It’s not in every country and venue that one gets the facilities. Hence, the National Team nowadays travels with inflatable mini swimming pools. It’s inflated in the Dressing room or sometimes, even on the ground and the players just love it. The National Team has 10 of them.
Ask Subrata Paul and he is all praise for the Medical staff. “In our clubs, we don’t get such facilities. In the national team, the Medical Staff takes care of us,” he says.
“It’s not only about ice-bath alone. There’s a constant tab on what we eat, the timings of compulsory rest, massages, etc. Playing three matches in five days is tough, that too in this heat. We need to thank our support staff for keeping us fit,” he declares.
In Masseur Liaqat Ali’s room, Clifford Miranda lies on the table as Liaqat runs his nimble fingers over him. “I do around five-six massages per day or maybe even more depending on the situation,” Liaqat, who hails from Hyderabad, informs.
“We keep a tab on the players. On a day, some players get more tired than others; some run more than others. Hence, we put up a priority list and proceed with massage,” Team Physio Gigy George, informs.
“We need to get both the mind and the body needs ready for the match. If the muscles are tight, there can be a micro tear. We treat the cause, not the pain,” Gigy propheses.
“Let me tell you, without our Medical Staff, we wouldn’t have been able to play matches with the same intensity. There’s a difference between playing and playing with high intensity. We owe it to Dr. Bhattacharyya, Gigy and Liaqat-bhai,” Clifford maintains. “They help us get rid of our fatigue, the body loss and takes care of our knocks.”
At a time when everyone focuses on the field, it’s pertinent to also look behind the scenes and the backroom staff. And there, on National Team assignments, you’ll find the trio planning everything to perfection. What if none sings a ballad for them, “it’s all about team work,” Gigy smiles.
Keeping in mind recent medical reports, only normal Olive Oil or Baby Oil is used for massage. “There were reports which linked specific oils to doping. Hence, we stay careful,” Liaqat goes on.
“Besides, we also use the foam roller for self myofascial release. It’s a common practice in Europe too,” Gigy quips. “We need to improve the circulation and prepare the muscles for the next match. Prevention is better than cure,” Gigy says. You can never doubt him.
Liaqat by then had finished with Clifford. Mehtab was next. Lenny enquires about his timing. “You are at 4.30pm,” he was told.
(AIFF Press Release)