University of Johannesburg sports scientist Minky Tshabalala says she has achieved one of her goals after attending the World Cup U17 girls’ soccer tournament in Uruguay last year.
The 29-year-old, who is the sports science unit manager at UJ Sport, was named in the management team for the junior national team.
“I am sure that for any sport personnel to serve your country is one of the biggest honours,” said Tshabalala. “So this was a dream come true.
“When I got appointed I was in disbelief and happy that I would finally be working with the U17 national team at the World Cup. It only hit me once we were flying over to Uruguay that this was happening.”
The tournament took place from November 13 to December 1, but South Africa did not make the top eight play-offs.
After growing up in Bendor in Polokwane, Tshabalala studied sports science at the University of Pretoria, saying her keen interest in sport drew her to the profession.
“I got into sports science because I loved sports and did everything I could, eventually playing at the national U19 girls’ cricket week.
“However, due to injury I had to shift my focus to studying and because I still wanted to be involved in sport, sports science gave me the best of both worlds from a sporting and an academic point of view.”
She said her job at UJ involved overseeing a number of projects.
“I need to identify and appoint qualified and experienced staff within the sports science environment,” said Tshabalala. “I also develop and implement a long-term development plan for all staff.
In terms of the U17 soccer team, she said her main roles included monitoring the strength and conditioning of the players.
“Also I closely monitor their preparation before and recovery after a match. This is to make sure I am constantly looking at ways of improving their performance as well as their general health.”