Stratford-based doctor Andrew Prout will captain Team Canada at the World Medical Football Championships in Austria

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Soccer helped Andrew Prout become a doctor, and now the Stratford-based physician will captain Team Canada at the World Medical Football Championships in Austria.

Funny how things work.

“It’s kind of interesting how it’s all come full circle because soccer has taught me a lot of what I’ve become now – the teamwork, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, working through problems, working through injuries – so it’s taught me a lot about how to be a good doctor,” he said. “It’s funny now that being a doctor has given me a chance to experience some of the things in soccer I never got to experience because I got into medicine.”

The 33-year-old also played in last year’s tournament in Spain. Canada finished 14th of 22 countries in its first time at the event, which doubles as a conference focusing mostly on sports medicine.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” he said. “As much as it’s meant to be for fun, not competitive masters league soccer, whenever you put on your country’s flag it changes everything. The level of competition was way higher than what any of us expected.

“You get to network and you get to meet other people interested not only in soccer or football but sports in general from across the world, so it’s a great experience.”

Prout grew up in Exeter dreaming of representing his province or country at some level. He played in the Western Ontario Soccer League’s premier division and had teammates with connections to teams in Europe, which was another possibility.

Prout was in his second year at Western University when he tore his ACL while trying out for the varsity soccer team, which changed his career path.

“If I could have played soccer professionally I would have played soccer professionally,” he said.

“I wouldn’t change it. Life has gone exactly how it should have for me. Playing this level of soccer at this point in my life is perfect for me.”

Canada will have to come together quickly when the tournament begins Saturday. Players have trained for several months but had to do so individually given geographical issues and work- and family-related commitments.

Canada will play one exhibition match against the U.S. before embarking on six matches over seven days with 40-minute halves.

“Fitness is the biggest thing in this tournament,” Prout said. “Playing that much soccer in that short of time for people who are maybe not at their prime fitness years is really difficult. Knowing what the fitness level is required for this year is a massive advantage now.”

Prout called it a “massive honour” to be named captain.

“If there’s one thing that could trump putting on the Canadian jersey it’s putting on the arm band to lead a group of fellow Canadians.”

Prout, who plays centre-mid for the Exeter Centennials in the WOSL’s second division, was Canada’s leading scorer and most valuable player in 2016, so he knows expectations are higher in this year’s 20-team tournament.

“It was a great tournament and I was happy with how it went for myself personally, but moreso I’d like to see us improve from our 14th place,” he said. “If we could finish top 10 I think that’s a realistic goal for us.”

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