Injury Prevention Key Focus of New Netball Role
After an extensive career treating sports injuries, physiotherapist Gwen Harrop will relish the chance to be part of the solution instead.
Harrop, 38, joins the Netball South team on December 11 in the newly-established role of NetballSmart Development Officer – one of six specialist facilitators nationwide tasked with delivering an innovative programme in partnership with ACC and Netball New Zealand (NNZ).
“I’ve been picking up the devastation after injuries have occurred so it will be great to be part of the solution instead of the band aid,” she said.
ACC and NNZ have joined forces to teach over 100,000 players a year how to improve their game and reduce the risk of serious injury. Each year, there are around 30,000 netball injuries costing ACC $27 million. Through a new targeted NetballSmart campaign that teaches warm-up and preparation techniques ACC and NNZ are confident the number of injuries will be reduced.
“In many cases I’ve treated, if they’d had an injury prevention programme successfully established the injuries wouldn’t have been as severe or even occurred in the first place,” Harrop said.
She applauded the initiative to set up NetballSmart more formally in the Zones and was particularly eager to work alongside young players from throughout the Netball South region.
“They’re my favourite patients clinically – they’re already motivated, passionate and excited about life so they’re great to work with,” she said.
“We need to get the right habits established early so when they get older it will be second nature.
“There’s still going to be challenges getting people to switch their mindsets from routines that they are used to but NetballSmart will have such an important impact on the game. I think it’s absolutely awesome and I’m so excited to be part of something unique.”
Harrop has vast experience across multiple physiotherapy settings, including a Masters degree in sports physiotherapy and international roles with the British Forces and a clinical placement with the Melbourne Vixens netball franchise.
While based in Bangladesh where her husband Brett was physiotherapist for the national cricket team, Harrop established a successful gymnastics club for over 200 ex-pat children.
The threat of terrorism saw them move to Dunedin last year with their two young children, Luka, 6, and Amelie, 4.
“Bangladesh felt like a very safe place for years and we loved our community there but it changed so quickly. It was quite gut-wrenching to see that occur … you start living in fear and start questioning ‘why am I here?’,” Harrop said.
Reality struck when British intelligence agencies intercepted a direct threat to an event the pair were organising for ex-pats just four days before it was due to be held.
“We’re actually lucky to be alive. It makes you realise you need to live your life and focus on your most important priorities,” she said.
“We are loving Dunedin – it’s a fantastic lifestyle and as a family we’re always outside exploring the parks and beaches.”
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