BOISE, Idaho - The FIFA U-20 World Cup Soccer Tournament kicks off today in Kayseri, Turkey. Don't be surprised if you happen to see two familiar St. Luke's Sports Medicine athletic trainers on the sidelines. This year, St. Luke's Sports Medicine athletic trainers Forrest Pecha and Kip Dribnak are part of the U.S. Soccer medical staff that is helping treat some of the best soccer players in the world.
"It's incredibly exciting to be training at this level," say Pecha, who is the director of clinical residency at St. Luke's Sports Medicine. Pecha has been the force behind St. Luke's involvement in the U.S. Soccer Federation national teams. Pecha's past experience includes serving as head athletic trainer for the U.S. Men's Alpine Ski Team.
While with the U.S. Soccer team, Pecha and Dribnak will focus on keeping the players fit and healthy and treating any injuries the players may encounter. "We are the first-responders when there is an injury," Pecha says.
St. Luke's Sports Medicine provides the most comprehensive sports medicine services in the region. Trainers from St. Luke's work in a variety of venues across the region from the club, high school and college levels to work with professional teams.
"We apply the same level of care that we provide on the national and international level to all the local athletes we work with," Pecha said.
“Working with high level athletes helps us hone our own skills,” Dribnak says, “It is an honor to do it and rewarding to be able to work with that caliber of athlete and to be recognized for our skills.”
The U-20 World Cup brings together 24 teams from around the world to determine which team is the best in the world. The U-20 World Cup will take place in seven Turkish cities between June 21 and July 13. Last year's reigning champion Brazil is not playing in this tournament, so this year's favorites are Spain, Portugal and Ghana.
The U.S. Team kicked off its play on Friday against Spain. Unfortunately the U.S. Team lost to Spain 4 - 1. The U.S. Team will play again Monday in a match against France.
Pecha says the U-20 World Cup is the most highly anticipated soccer tournament just behind the World Cup. Many of the U.S. players will likely comprise the next U.S. Olympic Team.
To find out more about the U-20 World Cup, and to keep up on the action, visit www.fifa.com/u20worldcup.
Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.