UEFA's Football Doctor Education Programme (FDEP) is providing doctors working in football throughout Europe with key guidance in the treatment of injured players.
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Football's medical sector is growing rapidly in importance – and UEFA is ensuring that doctors in the game are given expert training, thanks to the education programme that it launched in 2012.
The FDEP initiative is proving to be a success across Europe, and three national associations – FYR Macedonia, Georgia and Sweden – have recently held workshops to give football doctors invaluable advice, guidance and information in various medical areas.
Doctors from top flight and second-division clubs in FYR Macedonia, as well as doctors from national teams, came to Skopje for a seminar looking at issues which included injury prevention, rehabilitation, psychology, football nutrition and the campaign against doping in football – all essential elements of the FDEP curriculum.
Georgia's club doctors and their national team counterparts reinforced their medical care skills, particularly those needed in urgent cases, at a workshop in Tbilisi. Meanwhile, trauma and medical emergencies were on the agenda for elite club and Swedish national team doctors at their workshop in Stockholm.
The three workshops were part of a 'cascading' process – because a key factor of the FDEP is that participants are taught how to cascade their own version of the FDEP's subject matter and programme content for doctors in their own country.
This ensures that only those participants who demonstrate competence in a given topic area are authorised to pass those skills and knowledge on to their peers at a 'cascaded' workshop. The three associations will now continue cascading within their football medical communities.
The FDEP's content and educational material has been compiled in conjunction with UEFA's Medical Committee and renowned sports medicine experts.
Participants take tests at the end of each course to evaluate the degree of skills and knowledge obtained.
The evaluation is felt to be important, because alongside learning the essential skills, all participants are then able to impart know-how to others, in line with UEFA's education vision in this sector.
"Footballers give pleasure," says Dr Ilija Stoilov, chairman of the FFM's Medical Committee and leader of the course in Skopje, "so they all deserve a high standard of medical care and support.
"The UEFA programme has the right approach, because it harmonises care and support for every player regardless of where they train and play football in Europe."
UEFA has announced that it will run all three workshops on a more regular basis as of next season, with a renewed workshop 1 already planned at the end of this year. Running regular workshops will hopefully further encourage doctors to cascade the courses within their national association.