Hountondji, 27, is a centre-back for Clermont Foot, recently promoted to France’s Ligue 1.
During preseason training recently, he spoke to us about why he decided to participate in the study that will track the mental wellbeing of 90 men and 60 women players, along with the functioning of their brain, heart and muscles.
The study aims to improve knowledge about the physiology of footballers during their careers, and the first years after they stop playing.
FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Prof. Vincent Gouttebarge is leading the research project, which is being co-funded by the Drake Foundation (England), healthcare company Mehilainen (Finland) and Push Sports (The Netherlands).
How did you hear about the FIFPRO study?
Professor Gouttebarge contacted me through a teammate, who was part of the study, and asked me to participate. I like the purpose of the project, which is to help the next generation of players.
It’s also interesting for me personally. I like to talk to the club doctors, ask questions and learn about the science behind health and injuries.
What does being part of this project involve?
I have completed some questionnaires about my health. That is relatively easy.
Sometimes I have to ask the club doctor to run medical exams on me. That can be more tricky to organize because the doctor might be busy but generally are fine with helping and I have had no problems so far.
Have you had any health issues as a player?
I had my worst period three years ago when I missed 6 months because of a ruptured thigh tendon when I was playing in Major League Soccer (for New York City). It was a difficult time because I was not playing much and then I got injured.
But now I am happy at Clermont. I played in 37 of 38 league games last season. I only missed one because of a suspension. I feel like I’m physically very fit.
How much care do you need to take of your health at age 27?
As a player your health is really important. You have to eat well, drink well, and train well. You have to recover well. It’s important to take care with everything you do.
At this point of my career, I have not thought about what my health will be like after my career. I am focused mainly on keeping fit and the season ahead in Ligue 1.
What is medical care for footballers like, in your experience?
I have played at seven clubs the last 10 years: in France, U.S. and Bulgaria. Some doctors are very good, others less good. The ones who have the most experience are the best; the best ones know about all injuries that a player might have.
When I move clubs, which has been a lot, I always ask the club doctor and ask for my medical information so they can pass it on to the next club. That part has always worked smoothly for me.