Wits University’s Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (CESSM) was officially inaugurated as a FIFA Centre of Medical Excellence at the University on Monday.
Among the invited guests were Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, CEO of the World Cup’s Organising Committee Danny Jordaan, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Jiri Dvorak and University officials.
One of only six centres accredited by FIFA in the world and the only one in Africa, the centre will provide world class medical care for football players and other athletes throughout the continent. The other FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence are situated in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, USA and New Zealand.
“One of the challenges facing soccer in Africa is the lack of medical support services,” said Jordaan. “When watching the African Nations Cup and you see African players with fit, healthy, strong bodies, and you know that it is not the product of our medical services but of Europe.”
“It is therefore wonderful to know that we now have our own facility in the name of African football,” he added.
The centre was first established in 2004 by Wits’ Dr Demitri Constantinou, in an effort to integrate sports and medical science studies at Wits. Having earned official accreditation as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, the centre will now be able to further its research and development programmes as well as increase its academic offerings in post graduate study.
As a service provider to sports professionals throughout Africa, Constantinou believes that athletes will benefit from the Centre’s state of the art equipment as well as their commitment to offer prompt and efficient service in prevention, diagnoses and treatment.
FIFA’s Jiri Dvorak expressed his belief that the centre proved that the quality of South Africa’s scientific and medical capabilities was extremely high. “From a medical side I am confident that South Africa is ready to host the first African World Cup in 2010,” he added.
Handing over the accreditation certificate to Constantinou, Dvorak said “This centre has fulfilled all our criteria and will make an excellent partner with FIFA.”
“This centre is an example of the progress we are making as a country,” said Tshabalala-Msimang in closing the inauguration. “Sports professionals will now be able to receive world class care at the centre,” she added.
The health minister further expressed the Department of Health’s commitment and support in driving the success of the Centre.
Source: South Africa: The Good News