Posted on July 31, 2017

Aspetar – the orthopaedic sports medicine hospital in Qatar – has paid tribute to the pioneering research efforts of three international researchers with the Aspetar Excellence Award at the 22nd annual European College of Sport Science (ECSS) Congress, which took place from 5-8 July in MetropolisRuhr, Germany.

The first of these three awards – the Excellence in Football Research Award – aims to attract and support novel research projects of direct relevance to the game. The award aims to stimulate research on applied science with potential applications on the football pitch. As such, researchers from a range of different sport science disciplines (physiology, psychology, nutrition, performance analysis, biomechanics) were invited to apply. Applicant numbers for the Aspetar Excellence Awards have continued to rise since Aspetar launched it two years ago, increasing from 74 applicants from 29 countries in 2015, to 82 from 26 countries in 2016 and 129 from 32 countries in 2017.

The first award was presented to Australian researcher Dr. Ric Lovell from Western Sydney University in recognition of his research “Scheduling of Injury Prevention Exercises during the Soccer Micro-Cycle: Insights from Muscle Damage, Soreness and Performance Recovery Profiles.” In his research, Lovell presented novel data on the integration of injury prevention training in the busy schedules of a top flight football team. This demonstrated how injury prevention can be incorporated effectively into a four-day training schedule in the lead up to games.

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The second award was presented to Dr. Marcus Champ, from the University of Western Australia for his research “Multivariate Modelling of Non-Contact Injury Risk in Elite Australian Footballers.” Dr. Champ developed a model used to predict injuries which is especially useful for a range of experts working with football teams. The algorithm developed by Dr. Champ tracked variables including training load as well as subjective feelings of wellness and fatigue, and was able to successfully predict a number of non-contact injuries.

The third award was presented to Dr. Javier Fernandez, a Doctor at the FC Barcelona Sports Science and Medical Department, for his novel research “Better match physical performance achieved in professional football with higher variability during training: a machine-learning approach.” The data compiled from FC Barcelona’s players was used for some very sophisticated analysis. The findings suggested a positive correlation between training variability and a player’s physical performance during a match, could be used to shape training strategies in the future.

Aspetar’s involvement in the Congress builds on its three-year partnership with the ECSS that aims to enrich the sports science and medicine industries by providing a platform for researchers from around the globe to exchange knowledge, insights and expertise around a variety of important and relevant topics related to sports science and sports medicine. The four-day ECSS MetropolisRuhr 2017 Congress, held under the theme ‘Sport Science in a Metropolitan Area’, consisted of a variety of workshops, discussion panels and lectures, that explored areas of collaboration in future research projects and gave early stage researchers an opportunity to network with more established counterparts.

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Mrs. Shaima Al Khaldi is the Assistant Director of Exercise and Sports Science Department, and Dr. George Nassis, Lead Physiologist, National Sports Medicine Programme at Aspetar led Aspetar’s delegation that included sports medicine experts.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Al Khaldi said: “It was our pleasure to once again participate in this major conference, now in its 22nd year. The theme of this year’s Congress touched on a range of important issues for us to address as a collective. Recent world history has shown us that economic development goes hand-in-hand with urbanisation, creating a range of new health issues for populations around the world. For example, in Qatar as elsewhere, the rate of obesity has reached endemic levels in recent years. Though demonstrable progress is being made, it is our collective responsibility to identify the most effective solutions and disseminate such insights around the world.”

Aspetar also sponsored a session at the congress chaired by Dr George Nassis entitled “Achieving top performance and injury prevention in football: from science to practice”. The aim of the session was to demonstrate scientific evidence, produced at Aspetar and elsewhere around the world, that proves it is possible to train players intensively without increasing the risk of injuries.

During the session, the session’s chairman and two world-leading scientists, Dr. Leslie Podlog, Associate Professor of Psychology (USA) and Prof. Tim Meyer (Germany), Team Doctor of the successful German National football team, presented and discussed the physiological and psychological factors that are associated with the risk of injury among football players. The session focused on explaining how a more holistic approach, comprising sports medicine and sports science disciplines (physiology, psychology, performance analysis), is needed to improve injury prevention and keep players healthy and able to perform at an optimum level.

In addition to being the region’s leading orthopedic and sports medicine hospital, Aspetar is a Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar teaching hospital. It has also been accredited by the Gulf Cooperation Council as a specialist hospital for the region, as well as by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an IOC Research Centre for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health, and by the Federation Internationale the Football Association (FIFA) as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence. 

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