‘Safety is of utmost importance’

HFC’s Head Physiotherapist talks about the efforts of the medical staff, monitoring the fitness of players and more…

Hyderabad FC became the first Indian Super League team to enter into Level 3 training earlier last month. While the protocols have been strict, the club and the staff inside the bio-secure bubble have been working round the clock to ensure that the players are receiving the necessary care, both on and off the pitch in what is an unprecedented situation. We sat down with Abhinandan Chatterjee, HFC’s Head Physiotherapist, for a chat on how the club’s medical team and other staff have been working during the last two months.

On the responsibilities of the Medical Staff…

Being the medical staff, we keep reminding ourselves and everyone involved, about the dangers of the virus. COVID is an airborne droplet infection so we try to stick to the basics which is the best way to reduce the spread of the virus.

We also have regular briefings with the drivers of our vehicles, the hotel staff and everyone we get into contact with regularly. We monitor every aspect of every move we make as that is the only way to stay safe.

On the care taken for gym sessions in enclosed areas…

In the humid weather in Goa, it was always going to be tough to work in the enclosed areas during gym sessions. But we closely monitor the fumigation of all the equipment every day. The grabrails and the touch points are constantly sanitized before and after every session. We are having to go above and beyond our hours of work but safety is of utmost importance to us and we are happy that it has all been good for us so far.

On monitoring the fitness of players after a month of pre-season…

Comparing the baseline data from the start of the season – Body composition, aerobic and anaerobic capacities, muscular strength and power – has been an important part of monitoring fitness of players. The frequency of physiotherapy sessions has also been an indicator of the same. Regular feedback from the players regarding general health and wellness has helped us as a medical team to formulate our plans and progressions.

It is also important to closely monitor the way the players are responding to the gradual increase of load and intensity of training. ‘Number of training sessions attended vs. number of training sessions missed’ is a good indicator of the same. A rough comparison of this data to the normal standard in elite football gives us a good picture of where the squad stands in terms of match fitness.

We also cannot ignore the psychological and behavioral aspects of each and every player, especially in this pandemic. So, it has not been easy but it is all going according to plan so far.

On getting closer to the competition…

With less than three weeks to go for the start of the league, staying away from injuries is going to be very important. Modulating the training load and observing the players’ responses after each session, is the best way to avoid non-contact injuries.

Trying to balance and match the fitness levels of players who started early, with the ones who came out late from isolation, especially foreigners (who joined the team late), has been the biggest challenge so far for the medical team.

The addition of Jose Carlos Barroso, our Strength and Conditioning coach has also helped a lot. Striking a balance between his methodologies and our programmes was going to be crucial and so far, it is going on pretty well.

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