28 July 2023 – South African Football Association (SAFA) Chief Medical Officer, Dr Thulani Ngwenya, is heading to Eswatini to impart his knowledge and host a sports medicine workshop in the neighbouring country.
The invitation came from the Eswatini Football Association and the workshop will be hosted over two days at Sigwaca House in Mbabane on Saturday (29 July 2023) and Sunday (30 July 2023).
It has been a busy week for Dr Ngwenya as before heading to Eswatini later on Friday (28 July 2023), he conducted fitness tests for SAFA match officials earlier on the same day.
“The Eswatini Football Association asked me to come to their country to conduct a workshop for all their national teams, all the medicos of their national teams, and the clubs in the Premier League and the lower division. This is to prepare them ahead of the new season,” he said.
“As we know in our region and in the entire continent, it is only South Africa that has a full-time Chief Medical Officer. I think Eswatini wants to follow suit. But at the moment they do not have sports physicians that would guide the process. They want to professionalise the sport and understand that footballers are human beings first before they are athletes.
“I mean, we have seen quite a number of cardiac arrests where people died without contact, especially in football. We have seen quite a number of head injuries, people suffering from concussion and sporting injuries. So, what I’m hoping to achieve in this workshop is to create an awareness and prepare all these medicos for the season that is coming because at the moment, there are no full-time sports physicians that side.”
Dr Ngwenya has become one of the most respected experts within the sports medicine field and two months ago he served as a Doping Control Officer for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina.
He was appointed as the Doping Control Officer for the World Cup in Qatar last year. He also served in the same position during the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon last year. He is also a CAF Medical Commission Member.
Dr Ngwenya said the continent has made some great strides in the field of sports medicine in the last few years.
“As a continent, I think we have really made some great strides. And I want to say, not because I’m South African and I’m working for SAFA, but SAFA has really taken the lead by takings sports medicine very, very seriously, hence appointing me some five years ago to be full-time here,” he continued.
“As a continent we have seen what Morocco has done. Morocco has got a sports science institute that is for the Football Association. This shows we are actually heading in the right direction. We saw Morocco going all the way in the FIFA World Cup up until the semi-finals in Qatar last year. It shows you the importance of sports science. So, if we are to make sure that we have this in each and every country on the continent, I’m sure we are going to break the barrier and soon we could win the FIFA World Cup.
“Yes, for now, we are still a little bit behind, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is making strides, COSAFA is making strides and SAFA, in particular, is making strides. Mozambique also gave me a call after they saw what Eswatini is arranging and they said they would also like me to come and impart knowledge that side. This is due to the work I’ve done for the COSAFA region and for the continent, and now being appointed at FIFA as a doping control office and a medical officer. So, they are seeing the good work that I’m doing globally and they would like me to share that knowledge with the people in the region so that we can develop, and grow together.”