Picture of Paul DhillonPaul Dhillon is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Academic Family Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan


Twenty-two physicians from across Canada recently left their examination rooms and operating theaters behind for a unique opportunity to represent Canada internationally at the World Medical Football Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

The championships have been occurring annually for 22 years with an associated medical sports and health symposium offered concurrently. This was Canada’s first ever team to participate. Canada was represented from coast to coast with physicians from Halifax to Vancouver selected for the team (see a full list of players below).

We began the tournament in a difficult group that contained the eventual runners-up, Sweden, and the 4th place finishers Australia, in addition to the hosts of next year’s tournament, Austria.

Dr. Fidel Vila, Director of the Non-Invasive Neurostimulation Therapies (NINET) Laboratory & Schizophrenia Program at UBC, was unfortunate in injuring himself in the team’s first training session and was unable to play the remainder of the tournament in Barcelona, where he had completed his basic medical training. .

Picture of some Medical Team Canada 2016 members, with Dr Kazem at the foreground

Dr Kazem

The first match of the tournament was a wake-up call for the team with a 5-1 final scoreline against the Australian ‘Docceroos’ who have a national selection program for their team. A goal by GP Tarek Kazem from Toronto was the first historic goal for Canada in the tournament and came late in the game. Unfortunately, Dr. Alex Aspinall was awarded a Red Card, Canada’s first during the match vs. Australia, and missed the following game. He was redeemed with a research award on the final night of the tournament, however, for his presentation on High Frequency of Musculoskeletal Injuries In Canadian Masters Athletes Preparing for International Soccer Competition: An Assessment of Pre-participation Health, Training Habits and Sustained Injuries at the 22nd International Symposium Medicine in Health and Sport.

The tournament is a compressed format with 6 games of 40 minute halves played in 7 days with a concurrent academic component. This compressed format allows for a lot of football to be played but also a number of injuries to occur and accumulate over the week, especially as many of the team are over the age of 35!

“I have never seen so many people on NSAIDs, with appropriate PPI cover of course,”  said Roman Tulis, Sports Medicine GP, Edmonton.

Alberta was strongly represented in the goalkeeping cadre with both Dr. Scott Samis and Dr. Tulis hailing from Edmonton. It was Dr. Tulis backstopping the Canadian team against Sweden

Picture of Dr. Tulis in front of the goalie

Dr Tulis

in a difficult encounter with the eventually 2nd place Sweden only able to squeak through with a 1-0 win against the Canadian Team.

The final group stage match against the Austrian team was a match the Canadians should have won; however, the match ended in a 1-1 tie with a pass from Dr. Clint Houlie finished off by Dr. Ali Ibrahim to notch his first goal of the tournament. That result moved Canada into the middle tier for the next phase of the tournament and into day 4 of the tournament.

Brazil – a team to be feared in terms of football – was the next team in the group stages of the competition for the fearless Canadian team, and with spirits rising after the draw the team was looking for their first win of the tournament. The game was a spirited affair with 4 penalty shots awarded through the match and a major knee injury to the star striker of the Canadian team. In the end it was a stunning airborne strike by Captain-for-the-match, Dr. Andrew Prout, that had the Canadians within one goal of equalizing the Brazilians and forcing a penalty shoot-out but even with the finishing skills of Dr. Noel Grisdale from the penalty spot the team was left one goal short in the dying minutes of the game.

A 2-0 win against Lithuania on the next and penultimate day of the tournament – their first win of the tournament – raised the spirits of the Canadian team.  Dr. Prout was the top Canadian scorer of the tournament with his second goal scored during that match and he was inches away on another attempt on net of securing Canada’s first ever hat trick.

The team enjoyed the win and then prepared for the final match against England to decide on 13th vs. 14th as the final position in the rankings. It was a testy match but the 2-0 scoreline at half-time proved too much for the Canadian team to respond to. During the match, surgeon Sean Gregg suffered a fracture and dislocation and after an on-field reduction continued to play the match in order to keep up the effort against a stronger English team! In the end the effects of injuries and the strenuous playing schedule didn’t allow for a return goal and the team finished with a 1-4-1 record, 14th place overall and as the top CONCACAF team!

Picture of some of the Medical Team Canada 2016 members, with their back to the cameraAfter the success of this year’s tournament the team is looking forward to the next international competition in Leogang, Austria on July 6-18, 2017. For anyone interesting in joining the team please contact [email protected].

Medical Team Canada 2016

Andrew Prout Stratford, ON
Tarek Kazem Toronto, ON
Scott Samis Calgary, AB
Fidel Vila  Vancouver, BC
Alex Aspinall Calgary, AB
Lukasz Kwapisz London, ON
Fortunato Caronzo Burlington, ON
Michael Corbo Toronto, ON
Noel Grisdale  Calgary, AB
Ali Ibrahim  Toronto, ON
Marcin Kowalczuk  Hamilton, ON
Paul Dhillon Regina, SK
Shervin Zandi  Hamilton, ON
Roman Tulis  Edmonton, AB
Enrique Filomeno Vela Regina, SK
Sean Gregg Red Deer, AB
Clint Houlie Regina, SK
John Kramer Montreal, QC
Darrell Lewis Halifax, NS
Bryden Russell Red Deer, AB
Trevor Lewis  Hamilton, ON
Ikennah Browne Calgary, AB