Give us a brief overview of where you work now, and what you’ve been doing since graduating? Qualifications, courses, previous jobs, any life adventures (travelling, marriage etc.)
I’m currently working at Prime Human Performance Institute, a high-performance sports medical facility situated in Durban. I’ve also been involved in domestic franchise cricket since 2016 as the team physiotherapist for the Hollywoodbets Dolphins cricket team. Outside of my cricket commitments I work with various athletes and private clients from different sporting codes. My previous job was at a sports practice in La Lucia. In terms of qualifications I am considering completing a master’s degree in sports physiotherapy within the next few years.
How did you get through undergraduate studies? What kind of student were you? How did you manage learning about ICU and things that you perhaps knew you did not want to pursue after graduating?
I’ve always been a diligent student. I’ve never really struggled from an academic perspective and I would like to think that I strolled through my undergraduate years. However, my 3rd and 4th year was extremely tough from a mental perspective when realized how many aspects of physiotherapy there was and how many things I was required to do that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I’ve always had a passion for sports, so any hospital and ICU work was a massive downer for me and probably still is. Guess what, most of your undergraduate years are spent in hospitals. In my 4th year I spent four of my five blocks in Tygerberg Academic hospital. Mid-way through 4th year I wasn’t sure if physiotherapy was still what I wanted to do. I always felt that the greatest challenge for me was trying to learn and stay positive in an environment that you didn’t enjoy or aspire to work in. My advice would be to keep going and take into consideration the bigger picture with regards to your goals. There will always be set backs and difficulties with everything in life.
What is the best way to start getting involved in sports physio as a student or new graduate?
Get involved early with voluntary work or club sports when you are in University. There are so many events and opportunities out there. Getting your name out and gaining experience is so valuable. You can pick and choose later in your career, but early on – do whatever it takes to progress.
How do you balance giving your time away for experience vs. passing up opportunities because they require volunteer work?
Give your time away for experience where possible, it will come back to you. It’s also an opportunity to network and market yourself. I’m not saying you should go out there and do every bit of voluntary work there is but broaden your scope and do as much as you can relative to your goals.
What characteristics and values are needed to be a successful sports physio in professional or elite sport in South Africa?
I find self-management is key. Depending on your role or workplace, you need to be able to manage your time, clients and social life efficiently before you reach burn out. Don’t just learn to work hard, anyone can work hard, but be smart about how you work and plan your days. It will become demanding at some point and it’s important to learn how to cope with that.
What courses, qualifications, educational material do you recommend for furthering knowledge in sports and exercise physiotherapy?
There is an abundance of material and courses out there to explore. I’ve quite enjoyed doing the FIFA diploma in football medicine. It has access to some great content and podcasts, including articles from Aspetar Sports Journal. I also read a lot of blog posts and articles available from the British Journal of Sports Medicine app. But really, join up on social media platforms and you will be surprised at how much great content is readily shared.
What are some of the pros and cons of working in professional sports in South Africa?
Working in professional sport is a dream for me and I’m sure there are many physios trying to get their foot in the door. I have had the privilege of working with many top professional athletes and I spend a lot of time watching cricket as part of my job, and I mean a lot. It’s a totally different lifestyle and realistically speaking there are cons to every job. I spend a lot of time on the road away from friends and family but at the same time it’s a sacrifice to do something that I enjoy.
What sacrifices should an aspiring physio make to “make it” in professional sport?
Develop a “learning and growing” attitude and get into the habit of working hard. Be prepared to give extra time towards personal development and skills growth. You need to be prepared to work and volunteer your time before it starts to work for you.
Which sports medical professions have mentored you/have you learnt a great deal from or have given you an opportunity to get where you are today?
I would say my friend Nick Pereira. We are close friends and he has often given me sound advice and information that I can grow from. I enjoy his attitude and passion for what he does. I would be lying if I said his energy hasn’t filtered down, it’s not every day you can have long conversations about physio, career goals and how to get there. He also put me onto some great content for personal growth and business-related stuff. There are many individuals who have helped me along the way. It’s important to stay hungry for knowledge and ask questions. You will be surprised at how many individuals are willing to help if you just ask.
Where would you like to see sports medicine in South Africa in the next 10 years?
I’m fortunate enough to be working in a high – performance institute where sports physicians work in close collaboration with physio’s and trainers. However, there are not enough sport performance centers or state -run clinics and centers in which the disciplines work together to create a patient centered approach. I feel there needs to be more environments available that promote growth or skills that are on par with sports medicine abroad and are leaning towards more injury prevention models.
Favorite or most underrated treatment technique that you use?
I wouldn’t consider it a treatment technique but I find load management crucial in managing athletes. You will be surprised at how many patients struggle to train “smart” or manage and adapt their training loads accordingly, especially when returning from injury or around upcoming events.
Any overrated treatment techniques that you would scrape off the face of the earth if you could?
*Nick Moffitt is a friend of ours and an extremely talented and driven young physio. We strongly encourage readers to connect with him on social media @nkster.
He is a Cape Town local, now living in Durbs and spends his working time either at Moses Mabhida’s Prime Institute, or on the road with the Dolphins cricket team. Outside of work, he’s an avid fly fisher (see his IG 🙂 gym bro and a highly talented opening batsman, who played WP Club cricket during his under graduate.
We want to thank him for his contribution, congratulate him on his recent Momentum One Day Cup Trophy with the Dolphins and wish him incredible amounts of success and happiness in his future.