Doctors on Call in China
- Updated: July 21, 2016
As the CAFL gets ready to officially plant the flag of American football on the shores of China, the daunting task of a trans-Pacific migration is suddenly a reality. More than 60 “foreign” players will navigate tens of thousands of miles, maneuver through customs, unpack their equipment bags, take up residence, and become the founders of the CAFL’s historic first season. So too will all of their coaches, about 3 dozen staffers, and another hugely important team within the team. Dr. Merrick Wetzler is the captain of the 9-man CAFL medical and training unit, and he is busily at work preparing for the Super Series which kicks off in Beijing on October 1.
“Think about it,” says the new Chief Medical Officer of the CAFL and AFL-Global., “We will be setting up training camps, going to 6 new cities, playing in arenas where they have rarely seen a football, let alone set up the facilities that a modern tackle football team requires.” Experience, foresight, imagination and attention to detail are all in order. This is no task for a rookie. That’s where AFL-G president DAvid Niu’s own experience in world rugby competition comes into play. “I have been on tour with Doc Metzler for decades. I’ve seen him do it before as the chief medical officer of the Rugby League World Cup Qualifying Tournaments when we traveled throughout France, Italy, England, Australia, and even Russia. In fact, that is what I would most compare this to, our trips to and through Russia,” says the longtime intentional rugby star from his AFL-G offices in Conshohocken , Pa. “When I began to realize the complex medical prevention, training needs, and care needed for the full speed contact sport of arena football, I immediately thought of Doc Merrick. He is the ideal medical professional based not only on his experience in professional and international sports but also his vast experience in private medical practice. Through these relationships he will be positioning leading medical brands to be partners of the CAFL and AFLG such as Donjoy, whom will be supplying medical equipment and state of the art rehab and recovery devices for the teams and players in season 2016 in China.
Educated at Yale and Temple Universities, with advanced training at Boston University and Philadelphia’s Rothman Institute. Dr. Weztler illustrates the challenge in China. “The simplest things that we all take for granted here, are brand new and missing over there,” says Dr Metzler, who has also managed the medical and training staff of the US National teams of the Macchibiah Games for the past 12 years. “Weight rooms , training tables for the preventive tapings before the practices and games, ice, ultra sounds, braces, even band-aids – we need to anticipate all the needs, and bring them , along with a fully qualified staff to run it all.” To that end, Niu and the CAFL have partnered with the Donjoy company to deliver the many materials required. “I have been working with the Donjoy company for decades, and they have a huge presence in China as the nation as a whole begins to embrace all sports.”
Under Dr. Metlzer’s direction, the CAFL will send 6 experienced US-based professional trainers to the Super Series beginning with the preseason camps in early September. Together they will conduct a season -long study of head safety with the support and partnership of Elminda, a neurological study company out of Israel. Using portable EKG machines, baseline studies of the brain will be measured at the start of training camp, and then re-assessed at the midpoint and end of the season.