UK doctor combines football and helping out

2010-06-25 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’s hospital patients are benefiting from an English doctor’s passion for the game of football.

Dr Joseph Smith (38), a general practitioner from Cambridge in England, took sabbatical leave from his hospital job to ensure that he is in South Africa during the World Cup.

He arrived in the country on June 6 and will leave at the end of July. He is based in Pieterma­ritzburg, working at both Grey’s and Edendale hospitals.

Smith spends his Tuesdays and Thursdays flying to different clinics and hospitals around KwaZulu-Natal where he lends his expertise to facilities that are nowhere near the standard he has become accustomed to.

“I’m learning so much as a doctor during this time,” he said.

Smith travelled to South Africa by himself, and after missing England’s tournament opener, atten­ded the team’s second game against Algeria in Polokwane.

He had tickets to watch Wednesday’s game in Port Elizabeth, but was unable to go because of his work commitments.

Due to the uncertainty of where England will finish in Group C, Smith bought tickets to both the Rustenburg second-round match tomorrow (where England would have played if they had topped their group) and the Bloemfontein second-round match on Sunday.

Smith will be travelling to Bloemfontein to watch England play Germany.

He told The Witness of his experiences in South Africa so far, saying that he is seeing more of the country through his work than those tourists who are staying in host cities.

“I wanted to stay in a place small enough to stay away from tourists,” said Smith. “I was originally meant to work at King Edward Hospital in Durban, but my current situation is ideal.

“South Africa has been absolutely fantastic. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about it,” he said.

“The people are so friendly, I feel welcome wherever I go.

“The food is great, the wine is great and the organisation of the World Cup has been second to none.”

Smith has also bought tickets for the quarter-final match in Johannesburg on July 2, but England finishing second in their group means that they will not be a part of that fixture.

Smith said he will try to buy tickets for Moses Mabhida’s semi-final on July 7, and hope that England make it though their next two games.

He remains optimistic about his team’s chances.

“It’s a case of momentum. Now that we are in the knockout stages, hopefully the team will start to play well and keep progressing,” said Smith.

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