Trainers and Support Services at the International

In this author's opinion the IC08 worked so well as a tournament because of the serious commitment of resources to it by AFL Development and because of the efficiency and dedication of a number of people, including volunteer umpires and trainers.

We contacted Garry Bilson, AFL Medical Coordinator, as a prelude to writing an article on this aspect of the International Cup.

Gary is a Melbourne remedial masseur and trainer with the Brisbane Lions, head trainer at Gisborne FC, a former president of the AFL Trainers Association with VFL/AFL involvements going back to 1978. His international football experience includes touring Ireland as Head Trainer for Australia in the International Rules Series 2000, while he has been the co-ordinator of medical services for all three of the International Cups.

Garry provided us with this account via an email which we think it is worth publishing "as is". It confirms the general experience of high quality support services at the IC and Garry’s assessment of the "outstanding support provided by the AFL in overseeing this very important area of medical assistance".

Garry Bilson - Support Services at the International Cup

I was appointed by the AFL to coordinate all medical services in both Melbourne and Warrnambool. This roles consisted of coordinating Ambulance Services Victoria, St John Australia, Medical Practitioners, Physiotherapists, Masseurs and Training Staff.

As medical coordinator I was required to assess all injuries onfield and direct to the necessary medical services rehabilitation or hospitalisation if required. Pre-game preparation consisted of coordinating all team preparation which included massage, taping (ie. shoulder, ankle, thumb, knee) and treating any previous injuries and wound management where applicable.

Outstanding services provided, particularly by the ten trainers in Melbourne in all aspects of team support.

The team in Warrnambool consisted of Drs. John Manderson and Stewart Smith, supported by Physiotherapists and Sports Trainers coordinated in conjunction with Jamie Henriksen of the Warrnambool Trainers Association.

The outstanding story of the International Cup is that of Paul Ross (Rossy) - who not only was the sole trainer for the victorious PNG Mosquitoes, but also drove the bus down from Queensland and back, in addition to providing all support outside of normal training duties. On previous visits, in addition to the above, he cooked all meals, washed jumpers and was a general roustabout. His dedication to the team was above and beyond any role expected of a sports trainer. The emotion expressed after their victory just showed how much he was appreciated by all associated with the team.

In summary, with 16 teams competing on this occasion, (as well as) with Team Asia, Tonga and Team Africa, the workload was constant thus not allowing the training staff to have regular breaks, yet their enthusiasm did not wane.

Injuries at the 2008 International Cup were greater in number and a lot more serious than that of previous International Cups. Some of the injuries sustained included shoulder subluxations, fractures of hands and fingers, ligament and tendon damage to fingers and thumbs, Anterior Cruciate Ligament rupture, numerous deep wounds requiring suturing - many of these were hospitalised.

Additional support was offered by Felton Grimwade and Bosistos with their new 'Survival' Sports Drink. This was provided to all teams. Mufasa Therapeutics not only provided products consisting of heat and ice packs and deep tissue massage equipment, but also had staff assisting with massage in the medical marquee. Other companies in Hamilton Laboratories, Rye Pharmaceuticals, Alsco Linen and Biersdorf Australia provided products for all teams and the medical kits. These products consisted of sunscreen, bacterial foot powder, antiseptic spray, linen and trainers’ apparel such as medical bags.


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