Protecting the health of players, coaches, referees, other game personnel and club staff members was the focus as doctors from Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs came together to discuss medical best practices on Friday as part of the Euroleague Basketball Institute Annual Workshops.
The day-long session at the competition headquarters in Barcelona was led by Dr. Ignacio Muro and Massimo Simonetta, Euroleague Basketball's Medical Officer and Health & Performance Officer, respectively, and covered a wide range of topics, all designed to ensure that players across the continent are given the best possible medical care.
This was the first time the doctors' meeting has been held in-person, and Dr. Ugur Dilicikik from Anadolu Efes Istanbul greatly appreciated the opportunity to spend time and exchange ideas and expertise with his peers.
"Being able to share our experiences and finding new ideas is a great opportunity for us," he said. "Year by year, there are always new things to learn, especially this season, and it was useful to share the information about the injuries that all teams suffered during the pandemic."
The first item of discussion was an injury and illness summary for the 2020-21 season, which was of course heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of proposals for new protocols were also on the agenda, including concussion procedures, medical material required for visiting teams, biological therapy and doping tests. There was a particular focus on the ability to respond quickly and effectively to on-court emergencies, highlighted by the recent case of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen.
Managing the ongoing impact of the pandemic remains a live topic, and the club doctors debated ways of managing vaccination programs, the COVID-19 passport and future positive cases in order to agree on new regulations ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Although the doctors are in one sense rivals at the club level, there is a strong sense of camaraderie within the group as they work together to find the best ways to care for all players.
As Dr. Mindaugas Gudelis from FC Barcelona said: "It's very important to share our experiences about managing injuries and illnesses, and to understand the problems that different clubs have encountered. The goal of our meeting is to learn how we can look after the players, to share our knowledge and make every possible improvement.
"EuroLeague is getting stronger every year and we are doing the same – sharing, learning and growing together. There are lots of things we can do and it's important to have the same protocols and make good decisions for the future to make sure the players are protected."