Role of Physiotherapy in sports is hard to define, here is an experience borrowed !!
The Brisbane Strikers played the first game of Round thirty two in the Westfield FFA Cup recently which was hosted by local team, Broadmeadow Magic in Newcastle. The competition is a national knockout competition modelled on the English FA Cup. It is run by Football Australia and entry is open to semi-professional and amateur teams through state based qualifying rounds. From 621 teams Australia wide, the state based competition results with 22 clubs qualifying to compete in the National FFA Cup where they are joined by the 10 A-League soccer clubs.
The importance of this competition is that it enables lower tier clubs to play against some of the best players in the country and showcase their skill, with the possibility of causing an upset by knocking out one of the professional A-League teams! A national competition like this also helps to build the profile of soccer within Australia and subsequently improve community support and participation.
As the physiotherapist who travelled with the team on this occasion, it was Nuala’s responsibility to ensure players were adequately prepped for competition by treating any existing injuries at the hotel prior to heading out to the game. At the grounds, the remaining preparation of strapping ankles (mostly) and assessing any concerns that crop up during warm-up was done. During the game, Nuala sat on the side line with the coaching staff and was required to run on and assess any injured players as called for by the referee.
Given this competition is being run alongside the Strikers regular NPL season games, there was a three day turnaround to the next match. As such, the player’s recovery following the game was also a high priority with any niggles promptly treated upon return to the hotel that evening and the following morning before the team headed back to Brisbane.
According to Nuala, travelling with the team was a fantastic experience. Whether it be elite or sub-elite, the attraction of working as a physio travelling with a sports team is the ability to gain an in depth understanding of the requirements of an athlete to compete at that level. Being involved in all aspects of the athlete’s experience, including their preparation, during the game performance and their recovery, gives valuable insights into their needs and requirements. In addition, being able to see the injuries first hand is invaluable. The overall experience whilst demanding, was one which left Nuala feeling, “…very lucky to work with such a friendly and inclusive group of players and coaching staff”.
For Nuala, the most valuable thing learnt from travelling with the Brisbane Strikers on this occasion was definitely time management! As James Chiang (Allsports – Toowong) and Pete Wylie (Allsports – Camp Hill) who covered the Olympic FC vs Melbourne Knights FFA Cup match in Brisbane can attest, being a televised match, there was absolutely no room to be running late with Fox Sports running a very tight ship. “If you have even the slightest interest in sports physio, then [I] definitely [recommend going on tour with a sports team]! It puts your skills to the test and is a fantastic learning experience.”