From nursing to top sports medic

By Michael Uugwanga

POPULAR female sports medicine specialist Donatha Ngunovandu has spent over 20 years as Brave Warriors head medic and she continues as she is still loved by the players, the fans, the media and the Namibia Football Association (NFA), while many believe she is still the best in the business.
Her journey into sports medicine was an idea from former Minister of Health and Social Service, Dr. Bernard Haufiku.
Today, Ngunovandu (53) has helped dozens of sports medicine specialists such as Allan Kake, who holds a diploma in sports medicine from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and is a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited doping agent, the ever green Julia Halweendo who is now the Brave Gladiators medic, Titus Shixwandu, Melitha Gobetsi and Dr. Selma Shikongo.
Sports medics deal with athletes’ injuries such as concussions, knee injuries, ankle sprains, strains, and fractures and they are the ones responsible for giving the green light on whether an athlete is ready for action or not.
“Being a sports medic has changed my life in so many ways and one of it is that it gave me the life that l am living today. I was inspired in the sports medic profession after l was appointed to accompany the Namibian U-20 men team to South Africa in the mid-2000s as a professional nurse without any knowledge of sport injuries.
“While in South Africa with the U-20 I was then working closely with a sports medical specialist by the name of Dr. Silo who taught me about sport injuries and from there I realised that this was the profession for me and after that I told myself that I want to be a sports medic in the country.
“Upon my return I started working with renowned medical doctors, Dr. Bernard Haufiku and Dr. Michael Tune, who encouraged me to take sports medicine as career, that is when I started advancing my knowledge every time l got the opportunity,” said Ngunovandu.
Despite being in the sports medic industry, Ngunovandu is still in a learning curve and has seen different injuries on top athletes, and not only footballers but also rugby players as she at times helps out at the University of Namibia (UNAM) Rugby Club in Windhoek.
Ngunovandu currently runs her own practice called Donatha Medic that rendered its service to then Namibia Premier League (NPL), even though as an individual she is mostly with the Brave Warriors.
She holds a FIFA diploma in football medicine, diploma in sports medicine course for instructors, WADA certificate in Anti-Doping for sports physician, certificate in Pharmacotherapy from University of Namibia, certificate in Occupational Health from University of Stellenbosch, Diploma in Sport Psychology from UNAM and BSc Nursing & Midwifery (UNAM)
She has also attended sports medic courses from the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) and she is also an International Olympic Council (IOC) Sport Medicine Physiotherapist.
“Every now and then l still want to learn more about sport injuries and how to manage injuries. Sport injuries are different from other injuries and l want to continue studying as these injuries change every now and then and the way you treat them also changes.
“I have worked with Brave Warriors for almost 20 years and this year l was selected to be with the team once again, so it gives me courage to continue working hard and giving back to the nation. I have transferred my knowledge to many in the country and l am grateful that l was able to change the life of many Namibians and all that have passed through my knowledge are doing very well and growing the industry as well,” she said.
Ngunovandu, who is a former netball player and a fan of English Premier League giants Everton, was born in Omaruru in Erongo, and has no plans of retiring yet from the job she enjoys.
She is also the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Covid-19 medical officer.
“l was a netball player and l am also an all-rounder football supporter locally and an Everton supporter in the English Premier league. In this industry as you grow older you will have much knowledge and experience and most of the injuries that we deal with need experience so retiring cannot be soon.
“l am doing what l am passionate about and each day I strive to offer the best service that is why l stay strong in the industry”.