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Physios at the ready to help athletes at World games in Belfast

1 August 2013 - 1:43pm

A team of 40 physios will be on hand to treat any of the thousands of athletes taking part in the World Police and Fire Games which opened today in Northern Ireland.

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40 physios will treat athletes from more than  60 countries at the games in Belfast

More than 7,000 athletes from some 60 countries are competing in 56 sports at 41 venues.

Claire Ronald, CSP NI senior negotiating officer, is a triathlon volunteer. She told Frontline this morning the event was ‘excellent for Belfast’ and that the city was ‘chocablock with athletes already’.

She added that the physio volunteers may find this experience quite different to providing support for other sporting events. ‘There are some unique contests that you wouldn’t see anywhere else, such as the ‘Toughest competitor alive’ event which could mean seeing some different types of injuries.’

Another difference is that the physio volunteers will be working with athletes who have a good knowledge of first aid. ‘They are very different types of competitors to sports people, so there may be different challenges in working with them.’

Tamara Matulick is one of the physios providing cover for the Games. Originally from Australia, she currently lives on the Isle of Wight.

She volunteered for the Belfast games after the event was held in her hometown of Adelaide seven years ago.

Ms Matulick will be working as part of the medical team and covering sporting events including ice hockey, handball, volleyball and surfing.

‘I’m most excited about the surfing,’ says Ms Matulick. ‘I’m looking forward to been able to work with elite athletes, but it could be very long days – anything up to 12 hours a day.’

First for the UK

Belfast physiotherapist Andrew McMullan, a former Northern Ireland board member of the CSP, has also volunteered and points out that although this will be the 15th games, it is the first to be held in the UK.

He will provide pitch side support at a number of events, including five-a-side football, seven-a-side rugby and fell running.

‘It’s rare to get an event of this size in Northern Ireland that crosses so many sports and disciplines,’ said Mr McMullan.

‘A few years ago it wouldn’t have been possible to hold it here, so it’s great that it’s come here now and it’s a privilege to be involved.’

He added that he was especially keen to be involved in the fell running events.

Physiotherapist Jill McConkey, also based in Belfast, said she was hoping to gain career experience from volunteering at the Games. ‘I am hoping that if I enjoy it I’ll get involved in more big sporting events in the future. All in all, it’s just lovely to say I’m actively involved. It’s such a prestigious event and I’m really excited.’

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