EXPERT ASSISTANCE FOR BAFANA BAFANA FROM UKZN’S DISCIPLINE OF SPORTS SCIENCE
Postgraduate students at UKZN’s Discipline of Sports Science under the supervision of Professor Andrew McKune, an Exercise Physiologist and Dr Terry Ellapen, the Head of the Biokinetics Laboratory, will offer their expertise to South Africa’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana during the forthcoming Fifa 2010 World Cup in June.
An Exercise Testing Team, comprising Honours and Masters students within the discipline together with the two academics are expected to carry out performance exercise testing on Bafana Bafana while they attend training camps in Durban in the run up to the sporting event. Players will be tested for strength, endurance and recovery capacity, flexibility, speed, power, balance and core strength to determine their strengths and weaknesses and establish if they have accomplished the fitness goals drawn up by their Strength and Conditioning Specialist (SCS). Services rendered by the Discipline will serve as a guide to the SCS who in turn will modify each player’s training regimen to ensure that they maintain high fitness levels throughout the soccer spectacle.
State-of-the-art facilities containing sophisticated equipment and certified biokineticists has made UKZN the institution of choice to attend to the national soccer team during the World Cup. The Human Performance Laboratory uses specialised biomechanical video analysis software to test players’ performance and technique, and makes use of advanced technology to measure both endurance and speed capacity.
“Together with our experience, equipment, facilities and expertise we were able to demonstrate to Bafana Bafana that they would be in `good hands’…This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate that South Africa has sports science professionals who have the knowledge and skills to ensure the optimal performance of our athletes. This is also a fantastic opportunity for our students – through working with Bafana Bafana they will see how Sports Science theory is applied in the real world with professional athletes. There is no textbook that can provide a better learning experience,” said Professor McKune.
Dr Ellapen said the biokinetics service would extend to musculoskeletal rehabilitation in the event that players sustained injuries. He said the Biokinetics Laboratory, if granted permission, plans on conducting an injury survey on the players to ascertain the injuries sustained before and during the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
“I feel that it is a great honour and privilege for me and the biokinetic interns to support our national team in their effort to capture World Cup glory,” said Dr Ellapen.
Over the past two years the Discipline of Sports Science has performed exercise testing on teams representing various sporting codes. These include: the South African Sprint Kayaking Squad in preparation for the London Olympics in 2012; the South African Swimming Squad; the Golden Arrows Soccer Team and the SKISA Karate Team for a tournament in Greece last year.
Professor McKune added that in addition to the appropriate coaching, a system that monitored the physical, physiological and psychological conditions of players, longitudinally, would make Bafana Bafana a winning team.