Sport Science Institute of South Africa – a continuing force
08 July 2016
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Brad Brown: You’re listening to Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. We’ve spoken about the Sport Science Institute of South Africa quite a few times here on the podcast over the last couple of years. It’s always great to catch up and find out what they’re up to; cause there’s always some exciting things in the pipeline and on horizon. We’re joined now by Professor Andrew Bosch, Prof, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us today.
Andrew Bosch: Thank you very much, hi there.
BB: Prof, it’s hard to believe that Sports Science has been going for as long as it has. It started, I don’t want to say from humble beginnings because there were big ideas around it. It’s all sort of come to fruition now and it just keeps growing from strength to strength.
From humble beginnings
AB: That’s correct, yes. It started off from what was commonly known, I suppose and maybe still as UCT Sport Science when we were still catered at UCT Health Sciences. Professor Tim Noakes was doing a sports science honours course and Master and PhD and such like there.
Then he had this vision of an institute and such like and he got together with Mornê and a couple of others and started growing the idea and put it to UCT. I remember there was lots of to-ing and fro-ing and all sorts of things. Eventually this building was built and Sports Science from UCT moved into the building.
We occupied then a small part, two floors of the bigger whole, which was the Sports Science Institute building. Then all the activities in there, both from UCT and the Institute itself has continued to grow, to where it is now.
BB: I’m just amazed by all the different programmes that are available. A lot of people will think of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa; think it’s either just an academic environment where you just go to study or it’s Elite athletes, but that’s not the case at all?
AB: Absolutely, you’re absolutely right in the way you say that many people perceive it. Which is that there are lots of people who think that you have to be an Elite athlete or Elite cyclist or whatever it is, to come here. But that’s not the case at all.
It’s about improving sporting performance and health and everything of everybody, not just the Elite. Then the academic part, as I indicated just now, that is within this building. So it’s a UCT department within the Sports Science Institute building and we’re now very much working as a single entity, if you like.
An opportunity for every runner to improve
BB: Prof, let’s talk about some of the programmes and activities that could benefit the average runner, someone like, I say myself, but I’m probably worse than average, I’m way behind the curve. But everyone can benefit in some sort of manner. what sort of programmes do you guys run at Sports Science Institute that could benefit me as a runner?
AB: Okay, that is just busy being formed right now. We’ve had a number of meetings over the last couple of months about putting something together and it’s getting closer to being complete now. Just to put it into perspective, there’s always been a High Performance Centre as part of the Sports Science Institute. Maybe that’s where some people get the wrong impression, that I have to be a high performance person to come to the institute.
So maybe it’s a bad name from that perspective because you don’t have to be a high performance person. You can take somebody, like you describe yourself to be, maybe an average runner, an average cyclist or whatever. But the High Performance Centre will try and get you as the average person to optimise what you can do.
If you’re just an ordinary runner, but you want to do as best you can at your ordinary running, that’s where the high performance comes in. We’ll try and extract the best we can out of you. In that context we now are putting together a running section of the High Performance Centre, but it’ll cater for people who are good enough to be national or international level athletes. Down to the person who is trying to finish the Comrades Marathon for the first time. We can help that person finish Comrades and we can help the international person with their international careers.
BB: You mentioned to make people the best runner they can be or the best cyclist they can be. That’s also an important point to drive home, is it’s not just for one sporting discipline. You’ve got literally, across the board. There’s gym facilities, there’s medical facilities, there’s absolutely anything and everything under the sun.
Lots on offer at SSISA
AB: Yes, if we expand on that, it’s a bit of a one-stop shop, I suppose. We have a lot of international visitors here and I just recently had somebody visiting from the Netherlands. He’s very well-travelled and he was very impressed with what he saw here.
It’s because we have the range from the academic side of things, so we do the research and so on, that’s the UCT section, if you like. Then we’ve got, as you mentioned, there’s a gym facility and that’s open to the public. It also can be used as part of our research if we need to use some of the stuff there.
There’s various so called service providers; so there’s a physiotherapist, there’s a sports psychologist, there’s a biokineticist, there’s a podiatrist and there’s plenty. I’m sure I’m missing lots already. There’s a sports medicine practice. So if there’s a medical problem that you’re having a problem with. There’s a group of orthopedic guys, if it’s an orthopedic problem.
So it’s very well rounded in that it can deal with a host of problems that athletes might have and I’m using ‘athletes’ in the generic sense of the word here. It can deal with a whole host of problems from medical to diagnosis to rehab, to improvement, so the whole works. I think it’s quite an impressive setup.
BB: It is indeed. Prof, I see there’s also a big drive to getting kids active and I think that’s vital. Tell me a bit about that because I think it’s such an important thing that as a parent myself. I’m sure there’s many parents that listen to this. We grew up running around and climbing trees and things have changed in today’s day and age.
A drive to also get kids more active
AB: Yes, unfortunately it does seem to have. I was seeing something on Sky News just this morning about obesity again in the UK and such like amongst children. That’s not my area of expertise, there’s a whole group here and a Professor Vicky Lambert and some others who, the health of kids and getting kids active.
So Cathy Draper, she deals a lot with that. But I can’t give you the details of that, but certainly there’s a lot of work that goes on. Both from a research point of view, implementation of programmes. There’s, again, the institute runs a programme for kids and so on, so there’s quite a lot going on here in terms of that.
BB: If you want to find out more about the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, the website to get to is www.ssisa.com. You can find out about all those programmes and the kids’ stuff as well. Which I think is phenomenal.
Prof, thank you so much for your time and sharing a little bit about the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, it’s one of the beacons in that space in South Africa. I think what you guys have done over the years is superb, both from a recreational athlete, but also from research.
How things have changed over the years and I think it’s going to continue. I think a lot of that work is going to come from the University of Cape Town and Sports Science. Thank you for everything you guys do for us as average runners.
AB: It’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you.