Flinders University backs Thunderbirds with sponsorship and research

natalie-von-bertouch-webFlinders University could help boost the performance of the Adelaide Thunderbirds with proposed new research pointing the way towards improved diet and nutrition under a sponsorship agreement announced today (Wednesday 16 February).

Director of Flinders’ Marketing and Communications Office, Ms Diané Ranck, said the 12 month sponsorship would bring significant benefits beyond financial support for Adelaide’s premier netball team.

“Flinders University will bring strong research and teaching expertise in nutrition and dietetics to the relationship with the Thunderbirds to further enhance their winning performance,” Ms Ranck said.

“Relative to male sporting codes, there has been little research into diet and related performance of elite female athletes like the Thunderbirds. In the area of micro-nutrient intakes, for example, there is very little data on the ways in which vitamins and minerals affect performance,” she said.

“Female athletes are more likely to be deficient than males in micro-nutrients like iron and calcium because they generally eat less.

“We want to redress that shortcoming in our knowledge. One of the first initiatives we are considering under this sponsorship is a research project to examine the vitamin and mineral intakes of the players.

“We can then look at ways in which deficiencies might be addressed more effectively by eating smarter rather than by possibly relying on supplements. There is a lot of advertising about the perceived value of supplements but a balanced diet will provide more energy and performance than a pill.”

Ms Ranck said the Thunderbirds sponsorship provided important linkages between the expertise and research capability available at Flinders and the place in which that knowledge could provide tangible benefits – like the netball court.

“Along with the research projects that this sponsorship could support, there is also considerable scope for work-integrated-leaning placements for our nutrition and dietetics students,” Ms Ranck said.

“The Thunderbirds sponsorship also continues Flinders’ engagement with various community sectors, a centrepiece of the University’s Strategic Plan. It incorporates all of the aspects of the relationship that we are building with our communities – from players to supporters and parents and young people who may aspire to play elite sport,” she said.

Netball SA Chief Executive Officer, Ms Stephanie Greene, said the strategic partnership with Flinders would bring long term benefits to the game.

“We are thrilled to have Flinders on board for season 2011.  This is a significant strategic partnership for Netball SA – one that not only has much-needed financial benefits for the Adelaide Thunderbirds, but also one that will bring invaluable long term benefits to the sport of netball,” Ms Greene said.

Thunderbirds captain – and Flinders graduate in nutrition and dietetics – Ms Natalie von Bertouch (pictured) said the research would be an exciting and valuable addition to elite sport.

“I have a keen interest in nutrition and understand the benefits of how a healthy diet impacts on how I play,” Ms von Bertouch said.

“I am really excited by the prospect of Flinders undertaking research that could better identify these and other benefits and, perhaps, ultimately help the performance of our players and all female sportspeople,” she said.

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