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Sport has not escaped corrupt reality

Friday, May 22, 2015

When one looks back at the money squandering that has gone on in sport over the last decade alone, surely one wonders, if even for a moment, what could have happened had that same money been put to good use. 

It is a thought process that can lead to a measure of frustration and resentment for politicians and the entire political system today. How many well-trained specialists would we have developed by now? How many constructive agreements with internationally-recognised performance facilities could have been forged? How many community projects could have been developed that would have easily lent itself to early talent identification? How many sporting homes would be in existence? 

The reality is, however, that the time is lost and this is where we are. Expecting any of these errors to be accounted for and rectified is to be naïve to the corrupt reality that has disappointingly become part of the very fabric of this country. One can only hope that justice will be served after due process but in the meantime, life goes on and opportunities still need to be harnessed in terms of sport and opportunities for our athletes.

As an athletic trainer, my passion for working with athletes is not just within the walls of a clinic. Athletic trainers work both inside and outside of a treatment room to assist with athlete healthcare. Keeping in mind that athletic trainers have a different skill set to strength and conditioning specialists, our presence in the strength and conditioning room, on the field or court, becomes more about injury prevention as we work with other professionals to create amazing athletes. 

As a result of this dynamic role, athletic trainers/sports therapists are in a unique position to appreciate the relationship that exists between what happens outside of the treatment room and how it can directly affect what we see on the treatment table.

The biggest woe team administrators always have and the reason why insurance companies tread cautiously when it comes to insuring athletes is the cost of medical coverage. It is almost as if athletes should not get injured. Now, to some extent, I agree with this thought process—athletes should not be injured all the time. Their bodies should be well-tuned machines. However, there is a process involved with acquiring such states of fitness and readiness and it does not come by luck and chance.

The reality remains that prevention is always better than cure and when it comes to outdoor, field-based sports, the biggest contribution to preventing injuries is having proper training and playing facilities. The dust bowls and concrete ground that exist in the dry season that become badly trampled, unevenly levelled, sometimes marshlands in the rainy season carry tremendous risks for injury from ankle sprain, groin pulls, hip contusions, plantar fasciitis/foot injuries and muscle overuse to ligament ruptures and fractures which can land a person in the operating room.

The level picka ie ti marie that exists on some of the grounds that men play on, can often be a source of comic relief when discussing the woes of sport in Trinidad;  but the truth is that this brings in another source of potential injuries via skin infections. This is especially true when you are dealing with athletes who have callused skin and a high pain threshold, by the time a problem is recognised, it could already have gone too far.

This ongoing grief of poor facilities that many of our field-based athletes face year after year, who represent schools, clubs and even national teams,  is an extrinsic factor that has a direct impact on preventable injury. This is to say, an athlete playing on an uneven, extra hard or extra soft surface is more likely going to be injured and will remain subject to injury while continuing to play on that surface versus an athlete playing on a proper surface. 

Properly maintained grounds and parks are not a “one and done” fix. It is an ongoing, cyclical process that would require some serious investment but it would also mean jobs, beautification of the community because of the aesthetic appeal and it will foster further participation in extra-curricular activities which are all positive contributions to society. It is an investment with the potential to foster immediate returns.

Just imagine what could have been accomplished if money had been responsibly spent over the last decade. Investing in some proper facilities would be the start to taking steps in the right direction.

Asha De Freitas-Moseley MS ATC., has been an athletic trainer/therapist with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) for the past 12 years. She specializes in the rehabilitation of injuries experienced in the lives of active and/or athletic populations applying Active Release Technique (ART), Facial Stretch Therapy (FST) and Contemporary Dry Needling to complement her training as a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist. If you would like a consultation or have an injury, she can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd, 54  Gallus St, Woodbrook. Tel: 221-2437.


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