Even as around 600 dignitaries from all over the World attend the three-day 5th AFC Medical Conference in New Delhi, AIFF Media caught up with FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Dr. med. Jiří Dvořák, also the Chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre, to understand the influence of football in the present sociological context all over the world.
In an exclusive interview Prof. Dvořák spoke at length about his expectations from the participants, the connect between Sports Medicine and present day society, prevention of sudden cardiac arrests, rushing an injured player and much more.
What is the significance of Sports Medicine in modern day?
Sports Medicine should not be looked at only to increase performance; rather Sports Medicine is to educate the general populace about the value of sport. So it needs to be linked with the present sociological aspect all over the world.
It’s pertinent that everyone indulges in some sort of physical activity and contributes to the improvement of public health. Looking at India’s context, it’s important to promote physical activities.
Football is an ideal means to improve physical fitness and we have clear evidence that playing football thrice in a Week for 20 minutes a day will have a significant impact on the health status of every individual across all age groups, both men and women.
This is the main objective of sports medicine.
How can football help in the life of a common man?
We have clear scientific evidence that playing football on a regular basis will reduce risk factors affecting one’s health. It reduces the blood pressure, and even decreases the level of sugar in our blood, i.e., prevent diabetes. Needless to mention, it reduces the body mass index and prevents obesity. It also increases the bone density in mature women and reduces the risk of vertebral fractures. Furthermore, for ageing men suffering from prostate cancer, regular playing football will clearly prolong the lifespan.
All of the above are based on scientific evidence and not on any perception.
Very often, impatience among coaches and club officials has been the cause of recurring injuries among footballers. How do we stop that?
I urge the coaches and officials of the clubs and all the teams to allow the football player sufficient time to recover from the minor injuries as per the recommendations of the doctor. There is strong medical evidence that repeating minor injuries will lead to a major one, which can have dire consequences for the clubs and also the costs related to the treatment and loss of playing time. Summing up, rushing an injured player will incur a loss for all the stakeholders.
There has been a rise in the number of deaths among young footballers in recent past. Can cardiac arrests be prevented on the field?
I differ on that point. There hasn’t been any increase in the sudden cardiac arrests, only that the tragedies have been communicated more through the media. But all of them are unfortunate all we take the issue very seriously to clear the steps to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. We call them the 11 steps to prevent sudden cardiac death.
It can be prevented by appropriate pre-competition medical assessment and proper education to medical and paramedical staff to prepare for the training and matches. They also need to have the equipment, i.e., the Automated Electrical Defibrillator (AED) and most importantly know how to use it. That concept allows us to save lives.
In FIFA’s eyes, is the AIFF making efforts to mould football in the country taking help from sports medicine?
All India Football Federation has recognized the value of medicine in the development of football supporting to take care for the assumed 20 million football players all over India.
FIFA appreciates the honest support to develop football medicine within the federation to give proper care and also implement the preventive measures, such as the programme to prevent injuries in football – the FIFA 11+.
What stays the responsibility of the participants once the Medical Conference ends?
The main objective of this Medical Conference is the translation of the research into the daily life of the footballers. The duty of the participants from the 67 countries including India to bring the information to their microcosms with their clubs to improve the health of the football players by preventing injuries and also in the community to use football as a tool to contribute to the improvement of public health.
(Interview & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)