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Crossing the ditch

Until recently, Cameron Boland, APAM, was a locally based sports physiotherapist. He now resides in New Zealand after landing a job with High Performance Sport New Zealand, which, according to its website, aims to ‘improve New Zealand’s medal chances by surrounding elite athletes with expert teams and holistic strategies in partnership with national sporting organisations.’

Here, Cameron shares some of his story that led him from the ACT to the land of the long white cloud.

His background
As a new grad physiotherapist, I went straight to work in a private practice. I had always had an interest in working in high-performance sport but never really thought that I would be good enough. As a result, I kept myself involved in sport by working locally with both first-grade and schoolboy rugby union and didn’t really give high-performance sport a second thought until about six years after graduating. That was when I started the Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy at Griffith University.

On graduating from that program I felt it was time to go after that high-performance role I wanted. I joined the Sports Physiotherapy Australia ACT committee where, through meeting and interacting with some amazing sports physiotherapists, I was privileged to be provided a few opportunities to work with various sports teams. As an aside, I highly recommend volunteering your time with one of these committees. It’s great to give back and to get an Crossing the ditch understanding of how much work goes into providing professional development opportunities for physiotherapists interested in sport. During this time I worked with the Australian U18 and U20 Women’s Waterpolo teams through two world championship campaigns. Touring Europe for nearly a month at a time with a national sports team is amazing, challenging, exhausting, rewarding and so much more. Through this experience you start to realise that on tour the team physio is asked to be physio, nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach, recovery expert, confidante, relationship councillor, tour guide, bottle washer, emergency back-up goal keeper (that’s a whole other story) and everything in between. From that experience I secured a short-term role with the Volleyroos through their world championship qualifying campaign and was employed as one of the physiotherapists for the referees in the National Rugby League (yes, refs get injured too).

How the job came about
Social media! I first saw the job advertised through a group that I follow on Twitter and thought ‘that looks like a cool job but no way will I be competitive if I apply’. I had a chat with my wife and she told me to go for it. My wife and I have a bit of a rule that if you see a job you like the look of, apply. The worst that can happen is you don’t get the job. We figured that we didn’t need to think about moving countries until that situation actually presented itself. I was lucky enough that my application caught the eye of the selection panel and from the interview I was offered the job.

I can’t speak with authority as to why the selection panel chose me, but I would like to think that earning the Sports Physiotherapist title through the APA Titling Pathway helped. I’m confident that those experiences touring Europe with junior elite teams were a contributing factor to securing this job. Before the interview I made the effort to reach out to some sports physiotherapists with a wealth of experience in rowing and ask them as many questions as I could think of. During the interview I was brutally honest regarding what I didn’t know about rowing; I think that candour was appreciated.

What the job involves
The role is diverse and covers planning sessions with coaches, strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, nutrition, psychology, high-performance directors and sports medical staff on top of treatment time. The physiotherapy team works in close association with the exercise physiology team, who are the leads in athlete load monitoring here. If we are all doing our jobs well, then ‘hands on’ treatment ends up being a relatively small part of the role. As far as treatment goes, it is really no different to how we should be treating ‘regular’ people: a lot of patient education, addressing negative pain beliefs and fear avoidance behaviours, and a lot of time in the gym.

I try to spend as much time as possible in the gym with the athletes and the strength and conditioning staff.

Looking ahead
I’m hoping that this role might allow me to incorporate some research into my work hours. Outside of that, one of my career goals would be to work an Olympic Games with a high-performance team. Who knows, you might see me in 2020 in a black and white tracksuit!

Cameron Boland, APAM


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