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The Drake Foundation commits funding to The Drake Football Study and symposium on health challenges in professional football

The Drake Foundation has announced the commitment of funding to a ground-breaking study into the health of professional association football (soccer) players. The study – the Drake Football Study – will be the most comprehensive study to-date to measure the mental and physical health of professional footballers over time, and will be officially launched at a dedicated symposium to be held in London in October 2019.

The study will be part-funded by a number of collaborators in addition to founding funder The Drake Foundation, and will involve partners from across Europe, including the World Players’ Union (FIFPro), Amsterdam University Medical Centers (both the Netherlands) and Mehiläinen NEO Hospital (Finland). The research team, led by Vincent Gouttebarge (Chief Medical Officer at FIFPro) and Gino Kerkhoffs (Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Amsterdam University Medical Centers), will gather epidemiological data on musculoskeletal, neurocognitive, cardiovascular and mental health trends of professional footballers over their pre- and post-retirement years.

It is hoped that this longitudinal study – the first of its kind – will provide new insights into players’ health across their careers and into retirement. This information could ultimately enable health professionals to develop preventative and curative measures for future generations of players, as well as wider society.

While the Drake Football Study is still in the planning stages, it will be officially launched at a dedicated symposium, ‘Health challenges in professional football’, to be held at London’s Emirates Stadium on 16 October 2019. The 1-day symposium will cover key medical issues such as concussion and its management, player mental health, cartilage deterioration and transition into retirement.

The event will bring together researchers and medical staff from professional football to hear from speakers including Charlotte Cowie (Head of Medicine at the FA), Luis Serratosa (former Club Doctor at Real Madrid) and Gary O’Driscoll (Club Doctor at Arsenal Football Club), among others. In addition, Marco van Basten, who enjoyed an illustrious career as a player with Ajax, AC Milan and the Dutch national team, will address the audience.

Gouttebarge commented: “FIFPro and Amsterdam University Medical Centers have been collaborating for several years in order to promote the health of both current and retired professional footballers. Our past studies have shown that you need to have a holistic approach for that. The Drake Football Study will allow us to monitor the mental, musculoskeletal, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health of players during and after their careers. An unique opportunity but also challenging!”

Lauren Pulling, Programme Manager at The Drake Foundation, added: “We are delighted to be part of this new venture to investigate long-term health trends in professional football, which remain largely unknown at present. We hope that the study and its collaborative approach will provide valuable insights that will in turn help the sport to support its players throughout their lives.”

If you are a medical professional who would like to attend the symposium, you can find more information here and the registration form here.

If you would like more information on the longitudinal study, please send an email to [email protected]

If you have a query about The Drake Foundation, you can get in contact at [email protected]