PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – The Bahamas senior men’s national soccer team has an unusual schedule for this window of the 2022 CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Nations League. That schedule has the team playing four games in 10 days – two at home and two on the road. That calls for players need to recover quickly and for any minor injuries to be dealt with expeditiously. Dr. Sandeep Goud is the one overseeing that aspect as the team’s doctor.
The Bahamas finished playing Trinidad and Tobago last night and caught an early flight this morning to head back home to play Nicaragua at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Friday. It is an unusual first window due to the onset of the FIFA (International Football Federation) World Cup in November in Qatar. Goud’s role is to ensure quick recovery of the team and to mend injured players back to good health.
“Normally there is a whole recovery after games with ice baths, nutrition and stretch, but all of that is jeopardized by having to travel the next day. It is taking a little toll on the players but we are trying to do our best and have a strategy in place so they are fully prepared for their next game,” Goud said.
The team is young and that is working out for them. So far, everything has gone smoothly as players have been healthy and are ready to play again.
“Having no big injury is a plus,” Goud said. “Injuries take time to heal and with less than 72 hours between two games, it is a little too much and the body doesn’t have sufficient time for recovery. We’re focusing on nutrition in terms of recovery as well as other rehab strategies such as ice baths. It is really helping them to recover and get fit for the next game.”
The team is not staffed with a team chef so Goud said that he instructs the players about the importance of good nutrition in order to fuel their bodies.
“Certain foods like fatty foods interferes with your recovery – your body inflammation system. At the same time because you are in competition you stay away from alcohol, maintain the right amount of hydration and electrolytes so that you flush out all the metabolic waste. All of these play a crucial role in making sure within the limited time that they have, that they come back to their best form to perform,” Goud said.
CONCACAF has been mindful not to schedule games in the middle of the day when it is very hot. So far, The Bahamas has played both of its matches in the evenings when the temperature is cooler.
“Although the heat aspect is taken away from it, there’s still a lot of humidity and they still sweat. Hydration is key and there are clear guidelines and enough data as to how often you have to hydrate and what you need to hydrate from. While we are lucky that the games are in the late evenings, the heat aspect is minimized but the sweat, the salt loss is still the same, so we haven’t arrived yet. We do have a fair amount of nutrition that we take care of in terms of protein, electrolytes, and the pregame and postgame recovery as well,” Goud said.
Competition has resumed but the COVID-19 virus is still ever present. Testing is done on a regular basis to ensure the safety of the team.
“It is important that we test because of how the strain is currently, and even though all the players have been immunized, we have to monitor them. It’s still something that can jeopardize the team since it’s a team event. We have steps in place where if somebody is symptomatic, we make sure that they quarantine and are tested, and if found positive they are away for about a week or 10 days. We retest them with an antigen, and once it is negative, they come back,” Goud said.
FIFA has clear guidelines for international teams which basically aligns with what the Ministry of Health and Wellness has put in place in terms of screening, quarantining and returning to play.
The team has two more games remaining in this window. Goud is looking to ensure that the team is recovered, healthy and ready physically for its next match.