Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on DarfurUnited.com by Alex Nuttall-Smith, Darfur United’s Athletic Trainer
The theme is “be prepared.” Therefore, the players, the entire world, and I – the Darfur United physical therapist and athletic trainer – need to be prepared.
The Darfur United players will soon embark on a dream: a chance of a lifetime; a chance to represent every Darfuri that has been a victim of genocide. In only a few days, these athletes will become heroes: not only heroes for themselves, but for every child that has lost a parent, for every parent that has lost a child, and for every Darfur citizen that has lost everything dear to him or her during the last 10+ years.
Being in the medical field, I can predict what may happen on the soccer field based on experience and education. At the 2012 VIVA World Cup in Kurdistan, the Darfur United players arrived dehydrated, malnourished, and some had injuries sustained from the camps. However, they also arrived with dreams, hopes, and a passion for soccer that prevailed over all other obstacles. The current 2014 team, thanks to the amazing coaches and organizers, will be prepared to play. Therefore, my role is to make certain that they are medically able to perform.
As I prepare my medical kits, medical supplies, medical policies, and medical procedures, I feed off the hope and passion that these athletes will be bringing to the ConIFA soccer competition. During the very first meeting that I will have with the players, I will stress the importance of health, medical treatments, nutrition during the tournament, hydration, and good communication with me. Even the smallest of injuries (e.g. a blister) can mean pain and lack of playing time. With the proper medical supplies (which the team has on hand, thanks to everyone’s donations!) and immediate treatment, injured athletes will be able to return quickly to the field with extreme confidence that their tapes, bandages and treatments will allow them to play their very best.
The world also needs to be prepared. A change for the people of Darfur will only come with our help, so each person in the global community must be prepared to have a voice and spread the word of what these remarkable players and coaches are doing, and of what they are representing. Everyone following Darfur United is part of the monumental preparation leading up to the ConIFA World Football Cup starting June 1 in Ostersund, Sweden.
I will stock my training kits, plan my treatments, and prepare for every type of injury. I will be prepared to help these Darfur United heroes get on the field healthy, so that they can play for their country and play for peace.