A:- I have had a life long interest in sport, and played a lot of Australian Rules Football and cricket, in addition to a number of other sports, during my school years. My interest in physiotherapy was triggered by dealing with my own injuries, and experiencing first hand the difference a good physiotherapist can make. I have also always enjoyed science based subjects, in particular anatomy and physiology. This being the case, physiotherapy seemed like a good career to pursue, in that it gave me the opportunity to work in elite level sport and to also study the type of subjects that I was interested in.
Q: – You hail from a Country that has a very high standard in Sports Medicine, what are your achievements before you took up your current job?
A: Yes, Australia has a good reputation around the world in regards to cutting edge Sports Medicine. Physiotherapy opens up a number of different career opportunities however I always knew that Sports Physiotherapy was the area I wanted to pursue. After graduating I followed the advice of a number of successful sports physiotherapists, and made sure I gained as much experience as possible working with sporting teams. I also surrounded myself with experienced sports doctors and physiotherapist. This proved to be a very valuable learning experience, and fast tracked my development. I also went back to university while still working and competed a Master of Sports Physiotherapy. On completion of the Masters Course I was awarded with the most outstanding student in the subject of Sports Physiotherapy Clinical Practice. All of this led to me working with North Melbourne Football Club, this is a professional club that is part of the Australian Football League. This was a great opportunity, as in Australia, this league is probably the most advanced in regards to Sports Medicine and Sports Science. Following on from North Melbourne I then took up a position at the Australian Institute of Sports. This involved me working with athletes representing Australia in a number of different sports. These included volleyball, football, basketball, rowing, athletics and swimming. Overall, I have been very fortunate to work with such a large number of elite athletes, spanning across numerous sports. However, cricket was where I always wanted to end up, so I was very excited when the opportunity to work with Sri Lankan Cricket presented itself.
Q: – The Sri Lankan culture is very new to you; do you feel somewhat lonely at times?
I haven’t had the time to feel lonely!
But in all seriousness, I have found the Sri Lanka culture, and in particular the generosity of the people to be fantastic. All the players and staff have been extremely welcoming, and have gone above and beyond to ensure I have found the experience of moving over here to be as easy as possible. I also travelled to Sri Lanka on holiday in 2007, so I knew that it was a beautiful country (especially the food), so I was confident I would enjoy my time here. My sister is spending the next year doing volunteer work in Sri Lanka, so having some family support, in addition to having my parents over here for the last 10 days, has also been helpful. My brother and sister in law also adopted a Sri Lankan baby a couple of years ago, so I am not the only one in my family embracing Sri Lanka – all roads in the mount family seems to heading to Sri Lanka!
Q: – You don’t need a rocket scientist to warn you that working with world class sportsmen is very demanding how have you adopted yourself so far?
As mentioned earlier, I have had experience working with world class sports people, from a number of different sports, over the last few years. Therefore, prior to coming here I already knew, to a large extent, what it is like working in such an environment. However, every sport is different, and it always takes a period of time to get to know how each individual operates, in addition to developing good working relationships with the other staff members. However, overall I think my first few weeks here have gone well, and while it has been very busy, I have been having a great time! I am looking forward to these next couple of weeks in Colombo, prior to the Pakistan series, to start putting some systems in place and to further familiarize myself with the running’s of Sri Lanka Cricket, in particular the Sports Medicine side of things.
Q: – Steve two of our players namely Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews have very sensitive injury issues, have you any forward plan in nursing them so that they can prolong their carrier?
Both of these players are very important to Sri Lanka Cricket. It is important everything possible is done to give them the best opportunity to avoid missing matches through injury.
Firstly, I will talk about Angelo. Angelo has suffered a number of soft tissue injuries, mainly to his quadriceps and hamstrings. This first became a problem when he was in the under 19 national team, and has been an issue since. He also had his left knee operated on earlier this year to repair some cartilage damage in the joint. Currently, Angelo’s main issue is a feeling of ongoing tightness in his quadriceps and hamstrings. This is not uncommon in athletes who have had a history of muscle strains. Angelo also tends to get stiff in his lower back, and this is also a likely contributor to his ongoing muscle tightness. Angelo and I have been working closely together during the Australian series, and we will continue to do so in the upcoming break. This small break in our busy international schedule will be the ideal time to review Angelo’s training and gym program, in addition to him getting regular physiotherapy treatment. Angelo also travelled to Australia following the 3rd test match to get a medical opinion and some treatment from a couple of specialist doctors. As you can gather, there is no quick fix or ‘magic bullet’ for Angelo’s injury problems.It is a case of implementing a number of strategies, such as the above ones mentioned, and making sure they are all done at a high level. One of the main aims is to get Angelo back to bowling. His return to bowling will involve a gradual increase in load, and it will be guided by how his body reacts during and after each session. Angelo is highly motivated and has a great attitude towards his rehab. This will help Angelo get his body to the level required and hopefully lead to a long and successful career as both a batsmen and bowler.
As has been well documented, Lasith decided to retire from test cricket in order to prolong his career in the shorter versions of the game. This was predominantly due to a chronic knee problem, and also a history of low back pain. So far, from what I have seen, Lasith’s knee and back are both going well. He had an incident prior to me arriving, where he injured a disc in his lower spine. However, this settled down quickly, and he played the last 4 ODI’s against Australia. His body felt great during the matches, with no pain in his back or knee. In the long term, monitoring Lasith’s bowling load, and avoiding any sharp increases in bowling volume, is very important to hopefully avoid any knee or lower back flare ups. I will be working closely with the new coach, and the bowling coach, to make sure we put together a program that is suitable for Lasith. This will be aimed at optimizing performance, as well as decreasing the likelihood of any injury concerns. The strength and conditioning coach, Lasith and I have also addressed Lasith’s gym and fitness programs. This will be reviewed again following his return from the champion’s league (who knows, if he keeps winning games with the bat like he did last night for Mumbai he may return as an all rounder!).
Q: – Your job as the Nation team Physio, is 24 X 7, taking into consideration our hectic schedule, hence how do you cope and allocate time for your social life?
Ha! – yes, it certainly is busy, but I am very fortunate to have such a great job, so I am definitely not complaining! However, it is important to still allocate some time to a life outside of cricket. The main thing is to be organized, and be efficient in your work. If this is achieved, there is still time to enjoy a nice dinner with family and friends, or whatever it is you feel like doing to relax. I also place a high emphasis on getting a good amount of sleep, and trying to start the day with some exercise. All this adds to a good work / life balance.
Q: – Your Predecessors namely Alex Kounturi, C.J. Clark and Tommy Symsek have left a legacy by maintaining very high standards during their tenure with the National team, Steve you reckon you can emulate these personalities?
Yes, all three of the guys are highly respected, not only as physiotherapists, but also as people. I have not met C.J Clark, but have spent some time with both Alex and Tommy. Both have been fantastic in their willingness to offer advice and answer any questions that I have had. This has definitely made my first few weeks here a lot easier.
A challenge of any new job in Sports Physio, is that the players have often become very close and reliant on the previous physiotherapist. No two physio’s ever operate in identical fashion, and therefore, it can take time to build up trust and rapport with the new playing group. However, as I have previously mentioned, all the players have been very welcoming, and we have already started to build some strong physio – athlete relationships. Hopefully by the time I finish here, I am spoken about in a similar fashion to the likes of Alex, Tommy and CJ.
Q: – Your Dad and Mom were here for the 3rd Test, did they enjoy Sri Lanka, and are they happy that you are working in a distant land?
It was fantastic having them over here for the last 10 days. We all get along very well, so it was great that they could come over here and share the experience with me. They loved Sri Lanka, and were blown away by the friendliness of the locals. They are already asking me about trying to get tickets for next years 20/20 world cup, so it won’t be long until they are back in town! So yes, they are very happy I am working in a ‘distant land’, it gives them a good excuse to take holidays!
Q: – Steve we all have dreams, we all have ambitions to reach excellence, what are your goals, and are you heading in the right direction?
Well when I was starting out as a physio my aim was to work in professional sport, ideally in cricket, and to get to travel to various parts of the world…So, I guess that these career ambitions (or ‘dreams’) are currently being lived out. I have worked hard to achieve these goals, and I feel very fortunate and honoured to find myself in the position that I am in. My goal now is to make a positive contribution to Sri Lanka Cricket, ensure I keep up to date with the latest developments in Sports Medicine, and provide the players with the best possible environment to decrease the likelihood of injuries.
Q:- Finally do you feel nerves in the dressing room?
Back in the days of being an opening batsmen, I was a very nervous starter (that may have had something to do with my limited ability)! In regards to nerves in my position as a physio, I think there is always an element of nervousness starting any new job. However, these nerves tend to subside as you start to feel more comfortable in the new environment. At times, my position requires me to make important calls regarding a player’s fitness and availability for a match. I don’t think nerves come into too much, you just have to trust your professional judgment, and make a call based on all the available evidence that is at your disposal. At time this can be difficult, but that is what I am employed for, and it is all part of the job!