New physio graduate Chris Douglas has put his first UK job search on hold to help young footballers in West Africa fulfil their potential.
Chris graduated from Birmingham University in 2005 but, like many of his year, struggled to land a junior post here. So he decided to join a charity-run football academy in Ghana that aims to unearth new talent and help young players achieve a better quality of life. He told Frontline: 'After a few failed applications I felt a little disillusioned, but didn't want to waste my physiotherapeutic skills in a boring bar job after three years at university.' He now works for The Right to Dream project at the Tom Vernon football academy, alongside coaching staff trying to help youngsters follow in the footsteps of African superstars like George Weah. 'Poverty and disease crush the dreams of thousands of young athletes in Africa every year before they have the chance to prove themselves,' Chris said. 'Those who do go beyond these initial hurdles still have to face the major problems of bad facilities, poor coaching and very limited sponsorship, before they even enter a stadium.' Chris, who is also teaching students history and maths, is helping to rehabilitate players with long-standing injuries and embed the principles of injury prevention. 'Before I arrived none of the players seemed to be able to understand or manage musculoskeletal injuries,' he explained. 'Most players would train whether or not their body was telling them otherwise.' He has introduced strapping techniques and sessions in strengthening ankles to reduce the number of ankle injuries suffered on the hard, dusty pitches. Chris said the charity wants to raise funds to build a sports complex with a range of facilities, including a football stadium, fitness centre, and physiotherapy department. 'This is an exciting challenge, and it may just tempt me to stay in Ghana instead of returning to the UK and the problems of finding a junior post.' Look out for our round-up of the graduate unemployment issue in the next edition of Frontline. We'll give you the lowdown on the latest developments across the UK
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