An international sports consultant has advised managers of Ghana Women’s Premier League (GWPL) clubs to pay particular attention to the dietary requirements of their players as nutrition can help optimize their performance on the pitch and sustain their careers.
The consultant, Matthew Jones, who’s a dietician with London-based West Ham FC, was speaking at a workshop with club managers organized by leading global online betting and gaming brand, as part of its role as the official development partner of the GWPL.
He noted that even though some players may not appreciate the need for a good meal, they need to be given the right foods to ensure they perform at their peak.
He advised the consumption of meals with optimum calorie content because “there are problems we can have if we don’t consume enough calories.”
He said: “Based on the information I received and the sample I received of the food Ghanaian female players are receiving, there is a need to increase their calorie intake to maximize and optimise their performance. It is a problem within football in general – male and female football.”
Mr. Jones grouped foods rich in carbohydrate such pasta, rice and bread under ‘fuel’ foods while eggs, yoghurt, meat and fish are classified as ‘build’ foods that keep players in shape. He said there are also ‘boost’ foods that include fruits and vegetables while there are fluids such as water, juices and sports drinks.
According to him fuel and boost foods must be consumed in high quantities ahead of matches. But he also urged the club managers to “incorporate” all the major food groups in his classification in the meals of their players pointing out that “especially on match days, they need more fuel and boost foods.”
He also pointed out that for women footballers there is greater need to pay attention to peculiar dietary requirements.
He explained: “The iron requirements of women are considerably higher than that of [men]. Combining that with vitamin C foods enhance iron absorbtion. Towards the end of their menstrual cycle, to reduce symptoms of back pain, you can increase their intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fatty acids, flaxseeds and so forth.”
He was of the view that “there is no bad food, it’s just the context in which they are eaten.
Lead team doctor at Ashgold Sporting Club, Dr. Aniemena-George Chidi cautioned against the intake of caffeine by football players.
“The trick with caffeine is that if used right, you can have good benefits. It has side effects and since we are in a very hot environment, the problem you will face is dehydration,” he said. “[Caffeine] is a no-no for me.”
He recommended regular intake of oral rehydration salt to counter dehydration in training and on match days.
He buttressed the point that there are particular foods that must be included in the diets of female footballers.
“In Ghana, every female footballer needs iron supplements,” he said.