British GPs ready to fly to Brazil for medical answer to World Cup

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins in Sao Paolo on Thursday, nine British GPs are preparing to fly to northern Brazil for the medical world's answer to the planet's premier international football event.

GP Dr Fourie plays for the British Medical Football Team (Photo: Joshua Gow Photography)
GP Dr Fourie plays for the British Medical Football Team (Photo: Joshua Gow Photography)

From 6 July, as the World Cup enters its final week, teams of doctors will compete in the 2014 World Medical Football Championship.

For the first time since the British Medical Football Team first participated in 2006, the annual championships take place in the same country, at the same time, as a World Cup.

This year, the week-long medical championships take place in Natal, northern Brazil.

A welcome blunder by an airline means Britain’s 25-strong squad will remain in the country as the World Cup final is played.

Midfielder and Lancashire GP Dr Paul Fourie told GP: ‘Because of the cost of flights we were going to have to come home on Saturday night, but the airline messed up the schedule, so we will be in Brazil for the World Cup final.’

Losing on penalties

Some uncomfortable similarities exist between the British medical team and England teams of cup competitions gone by.

‘In the last two years, we’ve lost on penalties,’ admits Dr Fourie. ‘Last year, luckily, I was off the pitch at the time.’

Just as injuries have robbed World Cup squads of key players, the British medical team lost one player – a doctor from Birmingham – to a broken kneecap in recent weeks.

British Medical Football Team (photo: Joshua Gow Photography)

With just weeks to go before the tournament starts, players based across Britain are working hard to ‘keep their individual fitness up and avoid injury’, said Dr Fourie.

Despite recent disappointments the team has a track record of success, and hopes to emulate its 2010 tournament win.

‘We are one of the teams others don’t like playing,’ said Dr Fourie. ‘We are always one of the favourites. We won in 2010 and have always been in semifinals or finals since. We are always there or thereabouts.’

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