The Medical World Cup

Above: Irish Medical Team pictured with Tom Finn, CEO of Affidea (centre). Images courtesy of Affidea.

Above: Irish Medical Team pictured with Tom Finn, CEO of Affidea (centre).
Images courtesy of Affidea.

Medical firm Affidea, a Europe-wide organisation that works closely with governments to provide essential diagnostic and cancer treatment services, has sponsored Ireland’s team of soccer-playing medical professionals to compete at the Medical World Cup in Barcelona.

The Irish medical football team is made up of professionals ranging from GPs to consultants and obstetricians, and it includes top soccer medics from the Dublin 4 area.

The team has travelled to compete at the event in previous years and last month saw them participate in the 22nd year of the championship.

The World Medical Football Federation Championship began its life at F.C. Barcelona when a global group of like-minded medic football fans formed teams and came together to train and compete in the spirit of friendship and the sharing of medical knowledge.

Since 2004 the cup has gone international, having been hosted in Germany, Australia, Lithuania, South Korea, Austria, England, Sweden, Hungary, Brazil and the United States. This year 22 teams from across the globe competed for soccer glory at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Sandymount-based local and centre-half for the Irish medical team, Tommy Fitzgerald, was in reservedly confident form in advance of the team’s departure for Spain.

Fitzgerald, who works as a GP in Rathfarnham, explained how the Irish team fended off strong teams from Brazil and Germany at last year’s competition to finish top of their group, only to be knocked out later by the Czech Republic. “The competition will be tough this year but we have an outside chance,” he said in advance of jetting off to the event on July 8th. “While there’s a strong social element to the competition, and a sense of fun and camaraderie with international medical colleagues, there is also a serious, academic side to the event,” Fitzgerald explained.

The World Cup coincides with the Global Congress on Health and Medicine in Sport, a meeting of medical minds with a view to furthering the understanding of links between medical practice and sports.

But competitive soccer was very much to the fore when Sunday July 10th saw a confident Irish team beat previous champions Brazil with a score of 2-0, and on the Monday they overcame Mexico with an impressive 6-0 score.

Despite another strong performance beating old rivals the Czech Republic 2-0 the Irish team were eventually denied a place in the semifinals after being defeated by Sweden.

The team’s competition success is all the more remarkable given that a last-minute hitch threatened to affect the team’s confidence. On June 30th the NewsFour website reported that the team’s kit, valued at €2,300, had been stolen in Dublin, causing a last-minute appeal to recover the missing green jerseys in advance of the team departing for Barcelona on July 8th. The kit was not recovered, but the team carried on regardless.

Praising the team’s success in Barcelona, Tom Finn, CEO of Affidea, said: “To reach the quarter final of The Medical World Cup, beating the teams of such countries as Brazil, Mexico and the Czech Republic is an incredible achievement. We at Affidea wish the team the very best of luck. In order to keep healthy and fit, it’s essential that we make time for exercise in our lives – the doctors are leading by example here and Affidea is supporting them every step of the way.”

The link between sports and health is further emphasised through the Irish medical soccer team’s partnership with Pieta House, the centre for suicide and self-harm prevention. “We raise funds and run events in aid of Pieta, and try to highlight the positive effects of physical activity on mental health,” Fitzgerald explained.

For advanced notice of their events in aid of Pieta House, and to keep track of news from the Irish medical football team, log on to
Contact: Fiona McNicholas

By Harry Bradley