From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 66: HAGINO Shuntaro, Physiotherapist of U-18 & U-15 Brunei Darussalam National Team
29 July 2022
Differences in overseas lifestyle, culture, and environment
I was selected as the first medical staff to be dispatched from abroad to Brunei Darussalam and was looking forward to my dispatch in August 2021 with a great sense of responsibility. However, due to the spread of COVID-19 in Brunei Darussalam, my departure had to be postponed. When I finally arrived in Brunei Darussalam at the end of last year, I was assigned to the U-23 Brunei Darussalam National Team, which was not part of the original plan.
As I gradually came to understand the religious and family-oriented lifestyle of the Bruneians, their warm-hearted nature and the values derived from Islamic beliefs, I feel that I have finally been able to feel a sense of belonging. I am now able to better express my opinions as a medical expert, and have them accepted by the people here. Through various experiences, I feel that I have been learning more from them than I have been providing to them on a daily basis.
The medical environment surrounding football in Brunei Darussalam
In addition to working with the national teams, I had the opportunity to be involved in the league management as a medical expert as part of my responsibilities with the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam. Brunei's top football league consists of 15 teams, most of which do not have medical staff. While medical personnel are arranged by the league for league matches, it is common for first-aiders to be unavailable in life-threatening situations in a regular training environment, let alone provide support for sports injuries. As far as physiotherapists are concerned, there are no professional associations, and it is unclear how many physiotherapists are active in the country and how many are potentially willing to get involved in sports and football. In Japan, pre-season medical check-ups are usually mandatory. However, due to the scarcity of medical resources in Brunei, the use of medical equipment such as MRIs and ECGs must be prioritised for those with higher needs. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that it would be practically difficult for all players to be checked using medical equipment before the start of the season, and we have decided to conduct a simple medical check-up using a written survey. It will take more time and development of the surrounding environment before Brunei Darussalam footballers can be assured of medical safety, but I will do my best to contribute to any progress that can be made.
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