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Embarking on a Dream

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on by Alex Nuttall-Smith, Darfur United’s Athletic Trainer

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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.