Socceroos, Olyroos, Kangaroos and the lesser-known Futsalroos. The quirky nicknaming of Australian national sports teams is unashamedly endearing and clearly if you add ‘roos’ on the end of any name you just cannot go wrong.
In my day job in recruiting Doctors across Australia and beyond I encounter some interesting practitioners. A couple of years ago I produced an article about Sports Medicine with a Doctor I work with; he revealed he was also a Doctor for the Socceroos (Australian National Soccer Team), and with my love of football this was pure gold.
And then I stumbled across the Docceroos. It’s a fascinating concept that spawns images of footballers in full scrubs, stethoscope in hand as they do battle on the football field. Do they all run over to examine every time a player goes down in agony? If they are on the pitch can the Physio double as a substitute? But do not for a second confuse this for an amateur Sunday league team.
The brainchild of Dr Alan Jones, a Queensland-based General Practitioner, they have competed since 2003, training throughout the year towards their destiny of the annual ‘World Cup’ operated by The World Medical Football Federation. Not only do they take representing their country seriously but their fundraising efforts and raising awareness of important medical issues such as Men’s Preventative Health are admirable.
Coached by professional coach Dean Urginic, regular trials across the country bring together Doctors of varying specialities including Anaesthetists, Surgeons, General Practitioners and Junior Doctors. The squad have even had the privilege to attend a three-day training camp at Canberra’s Australia Institute of Sport, living and training as their professional athlete countrymen do. Dedication and commitment are essential in this squad; the already hectic Doctors’ schedule is punctuated by such events as the March 2013 State of Origin style competition between New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in Sydney, doubling as a trial for the ‘World Cup’ squad.
The World Medical Football Championships provide an abundance of opportunity as Doctors from nations across the globe combine to play the beautiful game. But the event has a useful dual educational purpose as it runs alongside a Medical Conference focussed on injury prevention and sports medicine. After a baptism of fire finishing last in their 2005 debut tournament the Docceroos’ form since has been mixed. Separate ninth and eighth place finishes, three sixth place finishes and two personal bests of fourth in 2007 (on home soil) and 2009 ensure they are usually in the middle range of ability compared to their rival nations.
The most recent Finals this year in Budapest saw Australia come away with a respectable finish of three wins and three losses including one lost penalty shoot-out. They managed to beat the likes of South Korea and Russia but the dizzy heights of an appearance in the final game still eludes the Docceroos. Of the current squad Queensland GP and veteran squad member Dr Peter Forgiarini leads the centre-back pairing and was one of the top scorers in Hungary with three goals, charging forward regularly for headers from set pieces. Dr Neil Janes in goal has been known to have performed Mark Schwarzer-esque shot stopping and the rock of their midfield Dr Nic Rendina, a Sydney Psychiatrist, has the honour of being the all-time top goal scorer with 13 despite being out of action since rupturing his Achilles in Sweden in 2012. Incidentally Dr Chris Lilley, another prolific striker, also ruptured his Achilles in Sweden but hopes to be back soon.
The future of the squad is promising and they will be already be preparing hard for what will be the pinnacle of their careers; in 2014 the World Championships will be held in Brazil running parallel to the FIFA World Cup. Positive news is the addition of a Veteran’s Cup of over 45’s playing 7 a-side in Brazil. Dr Alan Jones has released the squad trial dates for November this year with information posted on their website at www.docceroos.com.au . Their patients will surely forgive their absence on this occasion.