Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday Routine

Local footy season is now into Round 7, so for the last 7 Saturdays, with the exception of the one that we were in Brisbane, Erik and I have been spending most of the day watching and/or playing footy. As I mentioned at the beginning of the season, Erik plays for the "2's", or reserves, which is the first "adult" game played on Saturday. There is an under 18's game that is played before the 2's game, which I will have the pleasure of working in a few weeks when the "head" sports trainer is away on vacation. His game starts at noon and he has to be there by about 10:45am. I need to be there about 11:45am, but since we only have one car, if the game is away, I go a bit early with Erik and bring things to do for an hour before I start working. The home field is about a 20 minute bike ride for E, so for home matches he rides his bike and lets me have the car.

I work as the sports trainer for the first half of Erik's game while the head sports trainer takes a lunch break, since she has been there working since about 8:30am. Around half time, I go into the locker room to help her get the 1's ready. This involves mostly taping and massage. The Aussies love their massage. In the States we would typically use a heat pack, stretching, and perhaps a warm up on the bike to loosen up muscles, but here it's all about massage. It is something that has been hard to get used to, especially because some of the players think massage is a "cure" for injuries, while what they really need to be doing is stretching and rehab on a regular basis. As I've gradually gained more respect with the club, I have been making the guys aware of these things and a few are starting to listen, I think.

Around 2pm, Erik's game finishes and the 1's warm up for a few minutes before their game begins at 2:15. The game lasts about 2.5 hours (4 - 25 minute quarters with breaks at quarter time and half time), and during the game I'm often running on the field for injuries or taking care of players on the sidelines. One thing that has been extremely difficult for me to get used to is that sports trainers are able to run on the field while the game is being played. The second a player goes down, someone is yelling for the "trainers" to get on the field. Yes, sometimes those athletes are legitimately hurt and need to be carried off of the field, but often they just need a minute to "walk it off". I've spent a lot of my career "learning" to determine whether or not I need to go on the field for athletes when they go down, and now I am told to run out immediately, regardless of how bad the injury is. I do think it's a bit overkill and I tend to gingerly run out to an athlete who I think is going to be okay, while most of the sports trainers in our league are sprinting out to those athletes right away.

After the game I help players with ice and give advice to injured players about what they should do during the week. Every week we always have several injuries, and every week I tend to be shocked at just how many people get hurt. I can count SO many games that I've worked as an athletic trainer in the States when no one got hurt. In 7 rounds of footy, there have been multiple injuries in every game! Two weeks ago we had 2 shoulder subluxations and one dislocation, a high ankle sprain, a hamstring strain, and a hip pointer, along with a few other "minor" injuries. This week it was an eyelid laceration, an AC joint sprain, and a severe quad contusion. The number of injuries actually plays a huge role in footy because you only start the game with 4 substitutes, so if 2 are out due to injury, you are left with only 2 subs for the rest of the game. We have had several games this season where 4 players were injured, leaving us with no substitutes. Needless to say, that causes the guys to get "puffed"!

Erik usually stays to watch the 1's game, and after the game, players from both teams are encouraged to stick around the clubhouse to drink beer, eat food, and watch MORE footy on the telly (Aussie-speak for television). The coach gives out awards to the best player from each team (the best player from the opposing team gets a 6 pack of beer!), and sometimes there is free food for players and staff. Even after away games, guys will go back to the home clubhouse to hang out and have a beer. It's a good time to get to know the players, and I certainly am enjoying the friendships that Erik and I are forming due to being part of the footy club. One of those players was nice enough to offer to take pictures of Erik when he noticed that I had brought our camera, knowing that it was hard for me to try to "work" and photograph the hubby at the same time.
The black electrical tape on E's arm is in memory of 2 people close to the team who passed away this week. This seems to be done in all levels of footy. Before the game, each player does this, and sadly we seem to be doing it nearly every week this season!
Benefit of your wife being a sports trainer - she brings you her water bottle to drink out of at quarter time!
Erik getting a "mark", or a catch. "Marks" are a statistic kept throughout the game.
Using those tailback skills to dodge the opposing team.
Kicking the footy, a skill that has been hard for Erik to learn (the footy is shaped differently than an American football and is meant to be kicked end over end - not in a spiral), but one that he has really improved upon, according to his coaches and teammates. 
Erik in a "contest" for the ball. I know E hates wearing the mouth-guard and a lot of guys do not wear them, but I strongly encourage him to so and fortunately he obliges.

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