JOHANNESBURG – Safa will host a medical symposium in Nasrec on Saturday, where as many as 120 physiotherapists, masseurs, physical trainers and biokineticists have confirmed their attendance.
National team doctor Thulani Ngwenya is keen to explore how to merge the growing trends in modern football with that of sports science.
The well-travelled Ngwenya, in his capacity as the association’s chief medical officer, has over the years invested a lot of time educating himself in that space with football coaches now beginning to heavily rely on the science of medicine.
“The main objective is to help improve the performance of the players,” said Ngwenya.
“We have invited representatives from the PSL, the NFD, the Safa medics we use for national teams and have also invited countries from the Cosafa region as well as CAF, who have sent Dr Joseph Kabungo, a 2012 Afcon winner with Zambia.”
He argued that his international counterparts were already quite far along in building a synergy between the technical team and its medical department.
The 34-year-old, who joined Safa in 2012, but only began working as a chief medical officer three years later, was in the spotlight last year when he gave Bafana coach Stuart Baxter the go-ahead to field goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune with a face mask ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier against Senegal.
Khune had suffered facial bone fracture a few days earlier while playing for his club Kaizer Chiefs in a cup match.
“Actually, sports science is at the core of everything. If you look at our colleagues abroad, they have GPS monitors, which help with the prevention of injuries because you can control how much you load and that also helps in tracking the players’ fitness,” Ngwenya explained.
“We are going to use the symposium to discuss the management of concussions and the management of sudden cardiac arrest.
“What is important as well is to take the resolutions to higher authority and ask if we can begin to implement these new trends to see if we can’t compete against the best of the best.”
He singled out local club Mamelodi Sundowns, the newly crowned Absa Premiership champions and 2016 CAF Champions League winners, as a side that has already made great strides in catching up with the world’s best.
“Sundowns have invested a lot in sports science,” said Ngwenya.
“They have two qualified sports physicians, a physio, a masseur and arguably the best physical trainer in the country right now in Kabelo Rangoaga.
“I think all the clubs need to follow suit, and Safa needs to take the lead as the governing body.”
Baxter will also attend the seminar at Safa House to give a message of encouragement to some of the country’s best minds in sports medicine.
“We are independent, but we need to make sure there is good communication even with the teams.
“Recently, Neymar of Brazil got injured playing for PSG (France), but remember he went to Brazil to be operated.
“So both the club and the national team were managing him – that benefited both. We want to get to that level.
“Safa have Vision 2022, but without understanding the body of the players and working hand in glove with the technical team, we can’t achieve that vision.” Ngwenya concluded.