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  1. #1
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    "PCB need to invest and get the right specialists at all levels" : Dr. Zafar Iqbal

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal is an experienced specialist in sports medicine who, after completing an MSc in Sports and Exercise medicine in 2005, has worked for Leyton Orient FC, the England youth sides, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC. He has also held the position of Chairman of the Football Association (FA) Medical Society and is currently serving as the Head of Sports Medicine at Crystal Palace Football Club.

    In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Dr. Iqbal spoke about his own background and career in sports medicine where he has worked with some of the top names in international football, his interest in cricket, what the Pakistan Cricket Board can do to help Pakistan cricketers avoid and recover from sports injuries and the lack of Asian footballers coming through in the U.K.





    PakPassion.net : Tell us about your background and how you got involved in working with such high profile football teams?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I always wanted to be a doctor from a young age after my experiences with my sister who unfortunately had a brain tumor at a young age. After qualifying I initially wanted to be an Orthopaedic surgeon as I liked fixing things, but my interest in Sports Medicine started after I had a severe knee injury and received inadequate care. I found it unacceptable that I wasn’t being given treatment to enable me to get back to the level I wanted to play at and so undertook an MSc in Sports Medicine. I developed several Sports Medicine clinics and also became the Chairman of the FA Medical Society to help other doctors and physios working in Football Medicine. I then got an opportunity to work at Leyton Orient, a League 2 football club at the time and it snowballed from there.


    PakPassion.net : You've worked at Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and now are at Crystal Palace. How has that been? It must have been very interesting working at these great clubs?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I’ve had an unbelievable time working at these three fantastic clubs. It's no secret that I’ve always been a Liverpool fan and the opportunity to work there was too good to turn down. I had to return to London as my family had stayed in London during the five years I was in Liverpool. At all of the clubs I have been fortunate to work with some great players, managers and staff and I have been blessed to have experienced what I have over the last eleven years working in football.


    PakPassion.net : Given your Pakistani roots, you must be a cricket fan? Did you play cricket yourself and if so, up to what standard?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I love cricket and from a young age would play in the alleyway behind our house with wickets drawn on a wall. My father wanted me to focus on my studies and so I never got the opportunity to see how far I could have gone as I believe that I was an OK bowler.


    PakPassion.net : Any other sports played or interested in? Also any sporting heroes that you admire and why?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I love most sports especially tennis and boxing. Basically any sports where individuals dedicate themselves to be the best at what they can be and test themselves physically and mentally.


    PakPassion.net : Your favourite cricket players and footballers and why?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I've been lucky enough to work with some of my favourite footballers such as Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Philippe Coutinho – all of them were extremely gifted but worked very hard at it as well. Luckily they are great people as well. Regarding cricketers, I loved watching Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis play. The sight of them bowling from either end was simply awesome. Then for sheer drama you couldn’t go wrong with Imran Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi.


    PakPassion.net : Given your interaction with Pakistani cricketers, do you think they get the support that other athletes and sportsmen around the world get?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : Sports Medicine is quite a new speciality and requires investment at all levels. My knowledge about the set up is based upon what I've heard from sports athletes from Pakistan and so difficult to comment without witnessing the setup personally.


    PakPassion.net : What can the PCB do to help the with the management of player's injuries?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I think this would be the case for any athlete in Pakistan. Ideally they need the right specialist Sports Medicine advice and care. That only comes with investment and selecting the appropriately qualified personnel.


    PakPassion.net : How can Pakistani cricketers help themselves to avoid injuries?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : There’s lots that can be done and it is the same for all athletes wherever they are and what ever sport. They need to focus on nutrition, hydration, injury prevention by monitoring load and appropriate strength work. Recovery after training and games is vital. If they do get an injury then it is vital that they are managed correctly to help them return quickly and reduce risk of further injuries.


    PakPassion.net : I believe you plan to provide voluntary help and advice to several cricket and sports clubs in Pakistan. What do you aim to help them with and how?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I've been lucky to have gained the experience in Sports Medicine that I have had, having worked with some of the leading specialists in the world and also some of the best athletes in the world. I plan to try and share voluntarily some of what I have gained to help other athletes who may not be in the privileged position to get the care that footballers get in the Premier League in England.


    PakPassion.net : What should Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) do in order to bring Pakistan cricketers' fitness standards in line with modern-day expectations?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : Simply speaking, the PCB need to invest and get the right specialists in across the whole setup at all levels. Other countries are investing in the Sports and Exercise Medicine provisions for players, as you need the best players available for as long as possible.


    PakPassion.net : Pakistan cricket has been notorious for injuries over the years. Why do you think that is and what can be done about it?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : Probably the same reasons mentioned as above where they’ve not had access to the best Sports Medicine care and advice.


    PakPassion.net : Would you like to work in international cricket in the future?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : I have worked with international cricketers and other sportsmen who have come to see me, but I’ve a good secure job in England and enjoy that. I have no plans for working abroad and even if I did I couldn’t because of our young kids.


    PakPassion.net : Why aren't we seeing more Asians from the UK in professional football and do you see this trend changing?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : This is a difficult question as there isn’t a single satisfactory answer. Personally, I think there aren’t enough Asians in football at the lower levels who will then filter through to the top. It’s a very hard profession requiring a huge amount of dedication and sacrifice where the chances of success are very small. I wouldn’t push my son even if he could to go down the route of football because the chances of succeeding are so slim compared with other careers. However there are plenty of other career pathways that people can follow in sports, rather like my own in Sports Medicine or even from the Sports Rehab or Sports business management aspect.

    If you want to get basic information regarding keeping healthy and sports medicine and science advice for all athletes then you can contact Zafar on Twitter at @sportsdrzaf
    Last edited by Muhammad10; 6th October 2016 at 20:28.



  2. #2
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    great interview. as a doctor myself (pediatrician) with a huge interest in all sorts of sports, i love reading articles about medical professional who are working with elite athletes around the world. i think his comments on giving proper time for rest and recovery are spot on. even as a pediatrician i see so many parents who just want to know how fast their children can get back to playing sports, and they don't understand that the body needs proper time to heal, otherwise the risk of reinjury is very high. thanks for the interview and the great share!


    Greatness is a choice. Mediocrity is a disease.

  3. #3
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    Very nice of Zaf to spare his time for PakPassion.

    A really nice guy and someone who is very familiar to some of the Pakistani cricketers.

    He has worked with a left-handed batsman who was struggling with an injury for a long time and was being messed around by PCB medics.

    He also helped a Pakistani player with a knee problem during the Pakistan tour of England.

    Haris Sohail needs to see this guy as soon as possible before his career is ended by the PCB so called medical experts.



  4. #4
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    PakPassion.net : What should Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) do in order to bring Pakistan cricketers' fitness standards in line with modern-day expectations?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : Simply speaking, the PCB need to invest and get the right specialists in across the whole setup at all levels. Other countries are investing in the Sports and Exercise Medicine provisions for players, as you need the best players available for as long as possible. - See more at: http://www.pakpassion.net/ppforum/sh...97#post8893597

    I really do hope that PCBwallas are reading this. People like Dr. Zaf should be in the PCB and I do wonder who is looking after our players, given the injuries and recoveries are not looking good.


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    PakPassion.net : What should Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) do in order to bring Pakistan cricketers' fitness standards in line with modern-day expectations?

    Dr. Zafar Iqbal : Simply speaking, the PCB need to invest and get the right specialists in across the whole setup at all levels. Other countries are investing in the Sports and Exercise Medicine provisions for players, as you need the best players available for as long as possible. - See more at: http://www.pakpassion.net/ppforum/sh...97#post8893597

    I really do hope that PCBwallas are reading this. People like Dr. Zaf should be in the PCB and I do wonder who is looking after our players, given the injuries and recoveries are not looking good.
    PCB should share with the public who is on the medical staff and what their qualifications are


    Greatness is a choice. Mediocrity is a disease.

  6. #6
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    Love Dr Zaf, he was very popular with the players at Liverpool at his time there.

  7. #7
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    Yes your Exactly right sir
    your efforts will get result in many days INSHA ALLAH



  8. #8
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    I've spoken to and met Zaf. Great guy. As a fellow doctor, i think he's absolutely brilliant.

  9. #9
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    A big thank you to Zaf for his time.

    PCB really need to speak with this guy and work with him.



  10. #10
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    Good to hear that Zaf has helped another promising Pakistan cricketer recently and one who is on his way to making a comeback after a bad injury.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Good to hear that Zaf has helped another promising Pakistan cricketer recently and one who is on his way to making a comeback after a bad injury.
    Bro, how long do you think it will take before we can see Haris eligible for selection?


    Hai yeh Josh-e-Junoon, hai yeh apna yaqeen, ke jo tum mein hai dum, woh kisi mein nahin!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Good to hear that Zaf has helped another promising Pakistan cricketer recently and one who is on his way to making a comeback after a bad injury.
    After the nitwits at PCB nearly ended his career.

  13. #13
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    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

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    Zaf was fantastic with Liverpool - kept SG running for full season. Not sure if PAK FC teams can afford him (he is at C Palace now, I believe), but PSL teams indeed can for 4 weeks.

  15. #15
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    Zaf has helped many Pakistani cricketers get back on track after some shocking treatment by medical 'experts' in Pakistan.

    Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Zafar Gohar, Usama Mir are just some of the guys he has helped.



  16. #16
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    "Peshawar Zalmi is pleased to introduce Dr.Zafar Iqbal as Medical Advisor. Dr. Iqbal has served as Team Doctor of the Liverpool Football Club and is currently the Head of Sports Medicine at Crystal Palace Football Club. Dr. Iqbal will advise both Peshawar Zalmi and Benoni Zalmi cricket teams on sports medicine and will also work with the Peshawar Zalmi Foundation on youth development and physical fitness awareness projects that he is personally passionate about. Chairman of the Zalmi group, Mr. Javed Afridi welcomes Dr. Zafar Iqbal to the Zalmi family with the hope that his efforts will add immense value to the quality of sporting talent that Zalmi platforms are producing. In his message to Zalmi fans, Dr. Zafar Iqbal expressed his eagerness to work with Zalmi players. Dr. Iqbal is a sports medicine expert having worked with world class athletes and footballers like Gareth Bale, Luis Suárez, Fernando Torres, and Steven Gerrard. His experience of working with several Pakistani cricket players in helping them recover from game-related injuries will now find a wider platform at Zalmi and the group welcomes him enthusiastically and with high hopes.'"


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  17. #17
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    Great signing for PZ

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post

    Could’ve got someone else to type the tweet, lol.

  20. #20
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