A day in the life of a sports medic
By Michael Uugwanga
A proud product of Donatha Medics, Julia Halweendo is one of the few sports medics in the country that hardly gets the same recognition as other local and already established big names, notably Donatha Ngunovandu, Anna-Mart Kruger and Dr Vernon Morkel, just to mention a few.
Those that follow local sport, in particular football, know Halweendo from her time as an understudy to her mentor Ngunovandu who also happens to have raised Halweendo from being a teen in Windhoek to today where she is on the verge of starting her own practice.
This week, Confidente Sport sat down with Halweendo to get information about her background, her entry into sports medicine and her life in general.
Halweendo is the current sport medic for the women senior football side, the Brave Gladiators who are heading to the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup Women’s Championship scheduled to take place from September 28 to October 9, in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
She was also the sports physician for Namibian team that was at the recently held Summer Paralympic Games in Japan.
“It was through my mother (Donatha Ngunovandu) that I worked with and through time l became so inspired about what she was doing and she later started teaching me and through hard work and perseverance l am where l am today. Ngunovandu is my mentor and played the biggest role in what l do and the knowledge that l have around sports medicine. l am glad I was one of the lucky ones to get such skills transferred to me.
“I was born at a village called Onamuti in Oshana region in 1982. Being a sports medic gave me a chance and it is satisfying to know that you have athletes that depend on your services and have confidence in what you offer. It has also given me another way of looking at life knowing I carry the responsibilities of a potential winner of any of the events the athletes participate in and that gives me energy to do more for the athletes and for the nation,” she narrated.
A former athlete herself, Halweendo might not have made it big in sport, however her background makes it easier to help athletes overcome injuries.
“I played netball, athletics and football at Swakopmund Secondary School and also played for U-20s and the seniors (Brave Gladiators), however I did not make it because of lack of opportunities and exposure because there were other girls that were more talented than I was, but overall l am glad that the little exposure I gained as an athlete has helped me a lot in my field.”
Her trip to Japan with the para-athletes has seen her gain more experience as she made sure that the country’s top male paralympic athletes and medal winners, Ananias Shikongo winner of a silver medal in the T11 400m and Johannes Nambala winner of the bronze medal in the T13 400m were in good shape, both mentally and physically.
“It comes with emotions considering the plight of the paralympic athletes where one has to do more than just being a team medic and when they win like that it is so satisfying and compels one to do more,” she said.
Halweendo is a qualified sport medic with eight sports qualifications and is on the verge of obtaining a FIFA medicine diploma.
“When all is done the dream is to see more young ones getting into the vast growing industry. I am currently pursuing my FIFA Football Medicine Diploma. There are no limits in achieving what one is called for. Go for it and never look back, nothing can ever stop you,” said Halweendo.