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Afghan Cricket Physio stresses for greater awareness and research on sports medication in Afghanistan

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At a time when a dedicated Sports and Medicine Center (S&MC) is near to completion at Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in Kabul, the only physiotherapist of the ACB, Azeem Malik stressed the need for a greater attention towards awareness and research.

Malik as a head of medical department at ACB, is one of the longest-serving support staff members of the Afghanistan national cricket team. He has emerged as one of the key backroom staff since joining in March 2008.

Previously, Malik worked as a Physio/Trainer with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cricket team. A post-graduate with honors from University of Peshawar in Pharmacy, Level 2 Strength & Conditioning, Physiotherapy he has specialization in sports medicines and injuries.

“A day in a Match doesn't end with the last ball. Injury and recovery management begin immediately after the players come off the field. Besides that, there are also frequent drug-monitoring formulary for the players. At ACB we encourage players to use ice baths and hot shower, and most of them are professional enough to know when they need it.” Malik said.

Azeem Malik, Afghanistan Cricket Team Physio Treating Samiullah Shenwari in Division III Tournament South Africa, 2009

"I believe Hamid Hassan’s VMO muscles when operated thrice helped bring some sort of awareness to the fact that sports injuries are critical, and need attention. Awareness is increasing but I consider the level as low at this stage.”

According to Malik, rehabilitation and sports medicine were not given enough attention in the past. This time we have critical eye on the developments in this direction. The construction of Sports and Medicine Center is a positive development in this regard. With the establishment of the dedicated center we will be focusing on research and awareness, said Malik.

“Some treatments are relatively quick, taking not more than 20 minutes, whereas with those who have multiple injuries or niggles, take hours of attention. The treatment room is often a hive of activity as players hang out and chat whilst waiting for their turn on the table. When there are so many players it is often challenging examining them, all in the available time” said Malik.

With respect to his stay in Afghanistan Malik was of the view that he has worked hard together with the players, and the younger guys drew on his experience have definitely learned skills. “I started a standard practice day by organizing and prioritizing a treatment list. Then it's a matter of guessing how much time I need with each player and scheduling treatment around other team commitments such as practice, he added.

While commenting on the progress on Sports Medicine Center, Chairman ACB, Nasimullah Danish said, “We are almost in the final stage of the construction. This center will have the capability to treat players from all sports including Football, Taekwondo, Free Fight, Gymnastic and Wrestling etc.”

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