We’re so excited to bring you the interview we conducted with the incredible team that is DiabPT United from Portugal. This team is unique in the fact that every player is a type 1 diabetic. It’s an incredible story, but we won’t give you any more details about them in the introduction! Here is the interview in its entirety, ENJOY:
- So what is it that motivated you to create an all diabetic Football/Futsal team?
The team was created in 2012 by the Youth Group of the Portuguese Diabetes Association (NJA) and the Juvenile Association of Diabetes in Portugal (AJDP) with a two-fold objective:
A. To raise awareness of diabetes and to show that diabetes is not a barrier to sports or achieving your dreams. The team also aims to promote physical activity and help the fight against discrimination that many people living with diabetes still suffer, for instance in schools, jobs or with insurance. We believe this team is an extremely powerful advocacy tool.
B. To create a team to represent Portugal in DiaEuro (the European Futsal Championship for people with diabetes) and to participate in tournaments held in Portugal.
This year, the organization structure and management team is as follows:
João Nabais (overall project manager), Jenifer Duarte (team manager), Bernardo Rodrigues (representing the NJA) and Ricardo Simões (the AJDP). We also have the logistical support of the Portuguese Diabetes Association (APDP). The team is coached by Bruno Fuzeiro and Rui Simões, whilst we also have the support of a health care professional experienced in the area, nurse Manuel Esteves Cardoso.
We would love you to check out our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DiabPTUnited/
- What challenges do you face trying to manage a team full of diabetics? With so much experience of managing diabetes in the team, do you have any tips for the community which work well for members of your team in managing the condition around Football/Futsal?
The ultimate challenge is to ensure that all players have optimal blood glucose levels during training sessions and games that allow them to be at the top of their physical capacity! This is a hard task which has only been achieved a few times for the whole team. Each one of the players manages their own diabetes, because each one of them is different, but we talk within the team about the management of the condition, whilst the guys with more experience and our nurse offer support to those less experienced amongst the group. Last year, during DiaEuro 2016, we had the opportunity to use the Freestyle Libre, which was a huge help in managing diabetes throughout the competition and especially as we had 6 Futsal games in 6 consecutive days.
If you have the chance to use the Freestyle Libre or a continuous glucose monitor system (CGM) we highly recommend it, as this will allow you to better understand the effect of Futsal on your blood glucose levels. For instance in some people the competition will raise the glycaemia due to the adrenaline, while in others it may cause a decrease. It allows you to plan the game better because you’re able to see the trends from previous games, which will allow you to react if needed, to prevent a hypo or hyperglycaemia. In any case when we are not using a CGM, we do blood glucose checks before games, during the breaks and after we’ve finished to allow us to react if needed. Testing after the game is a must but you should also repeat the test 30 minutes – 1 hour later because we don’t correct hyperglycaemia immediately afterwards as it is better to wait as we sometimes see blood glucose levels drop very quickly in the hours after the game. We plan the team’s food intake and insulin dosage to avoid the period when active insulin will be peaking ahead of a game or training session.
- Do you have any rituals, specific foods or routines you go through which are specific to a Diabetic team? For example, do you encourage all players to test 15 minutes prior to kick off?
We don’t have any specific food routines, but we plan the day to ensure we have a meal at least 3 hours before the game. Then before the game we will have a small snack or something with more energy/carbohydrate. All players test before, during and after the game.
- Do you face any difficulties in blood glucose management after matches? Is there anything specifically you do as team to tackle the post game hypo potential? Any tips you’d like to give the community?
It depends, but most of the time we manage the situation well. Usually, we have a meal with a large amount of carbohydrate and protein to rebuild the reserves and adjust the insulin doses according. The long acting insulin, or the basal rate for those using insulin pumps, is in most cases decreased overnight following games.
- Tell us about your proudest moment as a team…Or your finest achievement?
For me the proudest moments have been when we have received massages from people with diabetes saying how inspired they’ve felt by the team and how our example has had a positive impact on their lives.
Since the beginning we’ve been able to reach out to a vast audience by getting coverage for the team on the media which has raised awareness of diabetes. These are our finest achievements.
This was also shown on Portuguese national Television (sorry it’s in Portuguese) a few weeks ago:
When it comes to DiaEuro, we have proudly participated since 2013 and have been lucky enough to finish as runners up!
- What are your future plans and objectives for the team in 2017 and beyond that?
The preparation for the team began in March 2017 with weekly training sessions. This year, besides the weekly training, we will participate in tournaments throughout Portugal and in public events. We intend to consolidate and develop new sporting projects and educational opportunities on behalf of DiabPT United. We want this project to be renowned at a national level and have an impact at European level. We will seek to expand the project to include more people with diabetes from throughout Portugal.
Although players with a minimum age of 18 compose the team, we open up some of our training sessions to children and adolescents to nurture the next generation who will continue with the project whilst we support their diabetes management. We also welcome women & girls to our training sessions, even though DiaEuro is currently for male participants only.
We wish to continue our participation in DiaEuro for many years to come.
- What would be your message to other diabetics out there playing football or wanting to get involved in it?
Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t give up on playing the sport that you enjoy. You will face difficulties, you may feel down sometimes, you might meet discrimination, but this shouldn’t stop you. This should only make you stronger! Try to get together with other people living with diabetes and contact your local or national diabetes association. I am sure that they will be a huge help!
For those living in Portugal, join us on our Facebook page DiabPT United, which can be found here:
- What do you think of “The Diabetes Football Community” project?
The diabetes football community is a great project. I am sure that in a very short space of time it will become a key initiative in helping people with diabetes that want to play football/futsal. It can be a platform to exchange ideas, best practices and to show that diabetes is not a barrier. People around the world will feel inspired by this community.
- AND finally can you list out your players, their ages, their type of diabetes and how long they’ve had diabetes for? We’d like to give your whole squad a shout out!
All players have type 1 diabetes, the team manager Jenifer Duarte also has diabetes type 1 for 17 years and is 28 years old. The full squad:
|Name||Age||No. of years with Diabetes|
|André Filipe Agudo Martins||30||12|
|André Santos Freixieiro||24||19|
|Bernardo Alexandre Lino Rodrigues||24||15|
|Bruno Filipe Santos Silva||34||12|
|Bruno Miguel Gonçalves David||31||3|
|Carlos Rui Peres Palma Neves||31||21|
|Celso Rodrigo de Sousa Freitas||40||15|
|Daniel Castelo Lopes||21||17|
|Francisco Manuel Lobão Patatas||19||7|
|João Filipe Carrasco||19||6|
|João Manuel Valente Nabais||48||36|
|João Pedro Santos Amorim Morais||20||5|
|Joel Alexandre da Silva Simões||26||16|
|Jorge Manuel Piedade Vieira||30||23|
|José António Alves Antunes||38||14|
|Leandro Porto de Andrade||34||23|
|Luís Miguel Barbosa de Brito||31||3|
|Próspero Jorge Rocha da Silva||52||7|
|Ricardo Jorge Campos Simões||29||16|
|Ricardo Manuel Marques Silva||28||24|
|Tiago Volker Klose Dias||38||24|