Jobs4football meets Filipe Cymbron

Jobs4Football Meets Filipe Cymbron: A Journey Through Sports Medicine Excellence

In the ever-evolving landscape of sports medicine, Filipe Cymbron emerges as a beacon of innovation and expertise, traversing continents and sporting arenas to leave an indelible mark on the field he dedicates his life to.

Hailing from Portugal, Filipe’s odyssey in sports medicine began with a fervent dedication to learning and a relentless pursuit of excellence. With a portfolio boasting a plethora of roles ranging from serving as a National Team Doctor for the Portuguese Football Federation to leading medical departments in renowned football clubs worldwide, Filipe’s career trajectory epitomises versatility and unwavering commitment. His journey speaks volumes of his adaptability, as he seamlessly transitions between diverse sporting disciplines, from the intensity of football to the unpredictable waves of surfing.

Throughout his tenure, Filipe’s approach to sports medicine has been marked by a blend of cutting-edge techniques, holistic care, and a profound understanding of the unique demands placed on athletes. As we embark on this Q + A exploration of Filipe Cymbron’s career, Jobs4football unravel the threads of his experiences, delving into real-life examples that underscore his mastery of the craft and his unwavering dedication to athlete well-being.

Filipe Cymbron UAE

Below we unravel through a series of Q + A questions the layers of Filipe’s journey, discovering the insights and innovations that have solidified his position as a leader in the realm of sports medicine.

Q: Your career has taken you to various prestigious positions globally, from working with football federations to surfing federations and even CrossFit teams. How have these diverse experiences shaped your approach to sports medicine, and what unique insights have you gained from each sporting setting?

A: The truth is that since I fell in love with Sports Medicine and decided to pursue it as my specialty, I understood the complexity and broadness that it encompasses. The more I adventured myself in different sports and within different social and cultural environments in different corners of the world, the more my perspective grew. Each endeavour comes with its challenges, but I would like to believe that for all of them the “base of the pyramid” is quite similar. The foundations of health, performance, and sports are all sustained by the same pillars. Education, communication, innovation, and organization are always vital when we are trying to work with high-performance athletes, and if on top of that you understand their individuality and their sports specificities, then you set yourself up for success.

All these different experiences have contributed to my way of working and understanding what sports medicine is. However, the one that probably impacted me the most, because it was early on in my career, was my internship at the Swiss Olympic Centre. It allowed me to meet some incredible professionals and witness first-hand a truly interdisciplinary approach to the athlete in a multitude of different sports (from summer to winter sports), all at the highest level.

Each different sporting setting brings you a new perspective and educates you about the world and its complexities, how to be, and how to behave in different scenarios. From the US, with the fittest on earth and CrossFit, to Indonesia, and an AFC International U17 UAE national team, to a paradisiac island for an International Surf Association world championship, everything is different! The access to healthcare, the athlete’s level, the sports, the demands of competition, etc. What it does not change is you, so you need to be adaptable, knowledgeable, and humble enough to be open to new ideas and always willing to learn.

Q: As the Head of the Medical Department at Al-Nassr Football Club in Saudi Arabia and other clubs, you’ve had to manage the medical needs of professional athletes. What are some of the most common challenges you face in such high-pressure environments, and how do you ensure the well-being of the athletes under your care?

A: All clubs/national teams present different challenges. Before anything, you need to understand the reality of where you are working. Geographic, social, financial, religious, etc. All that surrounds and encompasses the club is fundamental so that you can identify its needs and challenges and learn to position yourself in this reality. There are a few things that I always do independently of where I am working. One of the first presentations I give is about “Why are we here?”. I go through many topics, but at the end of the day, the main takeaway is that we are there to help them. And I do that presentation so that they can understand the why behind our decisions and changes. I do it so that they can understand my ethos and at the same time to lay some very important rules and foundations. First and foremost, I like to explain we are always striving to help them become better human beings; because a better human being will become a better athlete, but the contrary is not necessarily true. Second, I always explain that we must have open, respectful, and honest communication, and therefore the medical department is “Switzerland”. A place that does not take sides, judge, or punish them and is there to find solutions and bring them closer to the club and their best versions.

Independently of all of this, the most common challenges arise when you have injuries in key athletes and the club is somehow in need of their services, it does not matter if you are fighting for a title or relegation, all of them will have their own sense of urgency. You need to prepare the athlete and the staff for those moments and the best way to do that is through building a strong foundation with education and open communication. It goes without saying that to accomplish this you need to build a team of like-minded individuals highly competent and approach the athlete holistically (physical, spiritual, intellectual, relational, and emotional dimensions).

Filipe Cymbron Al Nassr

Q: You’ve been involved in a wide range of educational pursuits, from completing the IOC Sports Medicine Diploma to courses in Post urology and Functional Medicine. How have these educational experiences influenced your practice, and how do you integrate this knowledge into your daily work?

A: Indeed, I am always studying and pursuing new ideas, courses, and educational endeavours. It has come to the point that is just too much, to be completely honest. But I love learning and there are so many things to know if we want to truly understand this field and help athletes. All of them have, one way or another, brought me something. I sometimes joke saying that even if you will not use a specific course, approach, or knowledge, at least you learned what you do not want or believe in for your clinical practice. For me, the most important thing to keep in mind is: “Methods are many, but principles are few. Methods always change. Principles never do!”. If you truly understand this, it will change your perspective on life.

You start connecting the dots and understanding the interconnectedness of different fields of knowledge and how you can take valuable lessons from them and at the end you just try to integrate it all into what you have to offer. The best way to do that is to “keep it simple”. For that it always comes to mind the KISS approach: “Keep It Simple Stup**”. What this means, in a funny “relaxed” way, is that we must break down the very complex topics and ideas and make them accessible and easy to learn so that we can pass them along to our athletes, staff, and shareholders. They must understand what we are doing. I know that many colleagues prefer to be a one-man show or the holders of knowledge, supreme in their decisions and hiding their secrets. I believe true power comes from enlightenment and understanding of all involved!

Q: Your experience includes being a Doping Control Officer in Portugal. Could you shed some light on the challenges faced in ensuring fair play and drug-free competition in sports, and how does your role as a sports medicine specialist intersect with anti-doping efforts?

A: The anti-doping movement goes much beyond the idea of punishment and controlling athletes. The reality is that doping controls exists, first and foremost, to protect their health and longevity and to try to keep the “truth” in competition. A clean sports world should interest all stakeholders. Sadly, this is not the case. Too many people are just interested in the here and now, not caring about health consequences and other repercussions of their decisions. Money is the primary driver and the final goal! This leads to doping control officers often being regarded as the “bad guy.” Even with athletes who are not trying to cheat or deceive you are perceived as someone who is disturbing them at crazy hours and without notice. Instead, you should be recognized for helping them show their potential and to have an even playing field to play.

I think the problem here is a cultural one. Instead of trying to find the easy way out, or focusing on how to gain an illegal advantage over the adversaries everyone should be focused on better understanding athletes and their potential. How we can help them develop and become their best version respecting physiology and using our knowledge to do so.

Finally, these roles intersect very simply because in both places your number one priority is safeguarding the athlete’s health!

Q: Your profile highlights continuous self-improvement and your involvement in various international courses and certifications, such as the ISAK Training Course and the Harvard Sports Medicine Course. Why is this important to you and how does this impact the way you practice sports medicine and interact with your athletes?

A: For me, personal and professional growth go hand in hand. When you are working in this field, it is very difficult to dissociate who you are and what you believe in from the message you want to convey. What I mean by this is that even more than in other fields, I believe you must lead by example. It is very easy to “sit in your doctor’s high throne” and demand players to eat better, sleep x amount of time, exercise, do prevention training, etc., without doing any of that yourself. This is not leadership. If you don’t lead by example, you won’t have their respect.

I see continuous education and self-improvement as powerful tools to help you make better decisions consistently and build yourself. To truly understand something, you must not only study it, but you should try it. This is why I like so much the idea of N=1 to personally experience certain things. Of course, you won’t go through an ACL surgery just because you need to better understand the player’s perspective. But you can try to get closer to their reality if you “know” how hard it is to do that last rep in training, to say “no” to the desert when everyone is having it, or just to go to bed early when all your friends are coming together. Small things? I say a big difference.

Q: As a consultant and mentor for international athletes, you provide second opinions and guidance on their medical needs. Can you share more information on what this role entails and a particularly challenging case you’ve encountered in this role and how you approached it?

A: Second opinions can be just a quick consult and some advice, but this is not my preferred way to work. To truly accomplish something, I believe the guidance you speak about should be done through education. Mentoring involves a huge connection, and this is why you need to explain who you are, what you believe in, and how you work before you engage in a therapeutic partnership with any athlete. This is the main reason I have built my website, where I transmit my philosophy, vision, mission, and values. They need to be aligned with your ideas and open to learning and communicating for your work to be impactful. It is not a unidirectional road; it is a symbiosis and a complex one. Anyone can help treat an injury, but to help someone develop and grow as an athlete and human being is something entirely different. Many different cases would deserve to be mentioned, but a particularly intense and unorthodox one comes to mind. This was a case of a professional tennis player who had an injury for over 2 years and could not compete. I lived with him and his family for almost a month to help him recover. Nothing was off limits. We discussed nutrition, supplementation, physical training, training load, autonomous nervous system work, visual training, spiritual struggles, and even personal relationships. Of course, the injury was tackled and solved, but the goal here was to rebuild a new foundation so that we could identify areas to improve and take the opportunity to help maximize his human and athletic potential. This, I believe, should be the way we approach high-performance athletes.

Q: Working as a National Team Doctor for both the Portuguese U20 National Team and multiple UAE National Teams must have presented unique challenges as you are only with the players a short time presumably? What were some of the key differences you noticed between these roles, and how did you adapt your medical approach to suit each team’s needs?

A: It is true. You might receive different athletes each time, and normally for a short period. Usually, you have limited opportunities to impact them, so every minute you spend together counts. Nevertheless, the national team camps are intense environments, and contrary to what happens with day-to-day life in clubs, you spend much more time together in those few days and every experience is amplified. The challenge is to always be in your “A” game and come really prepared. Do your homework, learn about each player, establish a profile, physically assess them, prepare individualized programs and protocols, and show that you care and want them to be successful.

The key differences I found were not about the team, the players, or the staff, but much more about the organization and the culture around those national teams. I reckon that most teams fail not because of anything related to their physical and technical abilities, but because no one is able to give them structure and direction. At the end of the day, they do not know “who” they are and what is their support system and foundational principles. They have goals but no path to get there. What this means is that many times I have tried to close that gap and bring some structure to them. A place where they can find support, consistency, and coherence in our communication, ideas, and education. Stability for them to develop! And this was no different from Portugal to the UAE.

Filipe Speaking

Q: Your professional journey has taken you across the globe, working in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. How do cultural differences influence your approach to sports medicine, and what strategies do you employ to ensure effective communication and collaboration with athletes and medical staff from diverse backgrounds?

A: I would be omissive if I said there was no difference in how you practice and approach sports medicine in those countries. There is still a big gap in knowledge and development. From simple things, such as organizational perspectives to outside-the-box ideas, everything is often met with suspicion and problems, instead of a commitment to find solutions. Of course, this makes everything more challenging and time-consuming, but the way through is once more to lead by example, educate people, invest in relationships with the decision-makers, and show through your results that quality, commitment, and excellence pay off.

The cornerstone of success is communication, and I have learned the best way to build that is to listen more than you speak! What I do is I always have “an open-door policy” where they know they can come for questions and ideas to be thrown in for brainstorming and debate. Also, I make sure we have weekly team (staff) meetings to learn about the progress and challenges each one is facing and find solutions for them. The same goes for athletes and technical staff.

Q: Your educational background includes a diploma in football medicine and postgraduate certifications in sports nutrition and sports and exercise medicine. How do you integrate a holistic approach to healthcare into your practice, considering factors beyond just physical injuries, such as nutrition and mental well-being?

As I previously mentioned, I look at an athlete first and foremost as a human being which means, I need to learn and understand all that they stand for. The SPIRE model from Tal Ben-Shahar is a good starting point. Spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, and emotional well-being impacts every facet of our lives and undoubtedly impacts sports performance. My way of working integrates this by empowering the athlete to learn more about themselves, to discover more about their craft and to educate them about the things that impact their performance and evolution: sleep, nutrition, breathing, physical training, autonomous nervous system, etc. I try to equip them with the knowledge and tools to be able to make better, informed and conscious decisions. Knowledge is power, but only when you act on it!

Q: Your career trajectory has seen you transition from working in private practice to serving in prestigious roles with national teams and football clubs. What motivated these transitions, and how do you balance the demands of clinical practice with those of high-level sports medicine positions? What is next in your career and goals do you have?

A: To be very honest most of these transitions have been motivated by family and personal decisions. I believe we should all strive to have a balance between our professional and personal lives and not forget to give back to those who raised and love us.

The balance between clinical practice and high-level sports medicine is not an easy one but it is something that makes me better in different contexts. There are always things you can bridge from one context to the other and it ends up benefiting both worlds. One thing I noticed when I have changed contexts is that something always comes along in terms of education and innovation that ends up opening my mind and adding to my personal and professional growth.

I do not know exactly what is next in my career. Nevertheless, I do know I am still building my “pillars of knowledge” and principles, and this has been something  exciting to do. They have brought me some important perspectives and challenges.  I have dreams and goals, but more importantly, I have built “systems” that will allow me to get there. My path is exactly that, and the journey is more important than the “final destination”.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Filipe Cymbron for sharing his invaluable insights and experiences with us. His journey through the realm of sports medicine is not only inspiring but also a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for excellence. As Filipe continues to make strides in his career, we are reminded of his remarkable versatility and his profound impact on the athletes he serves.

Furthermore, we are delighted to announce that Filipe is currently available and actively seeking new opportunities to apply his expertise and contribute to the world of sports medicine. His wealth of knowledge and proven track record make him an invaluable asset to any organisation or team globally.

For those interested in learning more about Felipe and his work, please visit his website at

Once again, we thank Filipe Cymbron for his time, insights, and unwavering commitment to advancing the field of sports medicine. We eagerly anticipate the next chapter in his illustrious career and the continued impact he will undoubtedly make on the lives of athletes around the world.

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