King’s Academy, October 2, 2014 – Throughout his career, King’s Academy Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer Khaled Zeidan has witnessed firsthand the downfall of some of Jordan’s toughest athletes due to the lack of medical resources on the playing field.
“From 2002 to 2006 I saw so many players getting injured without receiving proper treatment,” he said. “We were losing some of the best athletes…it could’ve happened to anyone.”
Zeidan, who suffered from a severe sports injury himself in 2002, knows only too well the consequences of these dire situations. After the sudden passing of Al-Faisaly Under-20 soccer player Qusai Khawaldeh in 2013 – the young athlete lost consciousness during a soccer match and no paramedics were available on-site – Zeidan decided something needed to be done.
“This tragedy made us move,” he said. “We realized it was time to address the situation in Jordan and work towards the prevention and proper treatment of sports injuries.”
With the support of HRH Crown Prince Hussein ’12 (who worked closely with Zeidan while he was still a student at King’s), the Qusai Initiative – an intensive training program covering fundamental life support and first aid skills – was launched in January of this year.
Under the initiative, physical therapists and athletics specialists associated with all professional sports in Jordan (soccer, basketball, volleyball and fighting sports among others) undergo advanced CPR, AED and first aid training, and receive international certification by the American Heart Association after completion of the course – free of charge.
The first part of “hands-on training program,” led by sports therapy advisor Dr. Tanaka Hiroaki, also covers a Japanese technique of “sports massage” and athletic taping, and will later expand to include first aid response and rehabilitation, added Zeidan, who serves as advisor to the initiative.
“Since there’s no board certification in Jordan, we discovered about 80 percent of the country’s physical therapists aren’t qualified, yet there’s no law to stop them,” Zeidan said. “So we’re educating them and then training them. First it’s the engine, then it’s the machine.”
The initiative also aims to address serious issues (for example, doping) through subcommittees and the implementation of new laws which enforce pre-sport testing and strictly prohibit the use of performance-enhancing narcotics. Medical passports containing an updated track record of each athlete’s medical history will also be issued to help weed out offenders.
“If we want to change we need to be honest first,” Zeidan said. “These dirty business opportunities exist in Jordan and the target is healthy, young athletes.”
At King’s Academy, more than 90 faculty and staff members receive CPR and AED training every year, and two top of the line defibrillators are available on campus to ensure a quick and efficient response in case of an emergency.
“It’s very important that we’re prepared for anything,” Zeidan said.
The Qusai Initiative was implemented in cooperation with the Prince Hussein Academy for Civil Protection, Royal Medical Services, Civil Defense Department, Jordan Olympic Committee, Higher Youth Council, Military Sport Federation and the Hashemite University – the latter is set to offer students a bachelor’s degree in sports therapy – “medicine for the field” – starting next year.
“It starts with education,” Zeidan said. “It has always been my dream to improve sports medicine in Jordan. This is a national project, and it’s under this umbrella that we can make change possible.”