Flinders student Stephanie Walker’s advice on hydration and nutrition to West Adelaide Football Club went down so well that they’ve kept her on for more.
Ms Walker went to the western suburbs SANFL club to do a short-term independent study project as part of her Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The project was organised through the University’s Southern Knowledge Transfer Partnerships program.
Ms Walker was assigned to the Club’s junior squads to provide education on healthy eating, including appropriate levels and timing of fluid intake before and after games.
WAFC’s Football Manager, Mr Andrew Marks, said the benefit of Stephanie’s advice became immediately evident at a trial game on a warm Friday night – as ever-increasing numbers of the opposition were laid low by cramp, virtually all of the West Adelaide side played on.
“We asked ourselves what we had done differently this year, and the answer was we had Stephanie.”
He said that with varying game schedules, the players’ preparation, including adequate nutrition, was increasingly important.
“Games can now be played on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sunday mornings or afternoons,” Mr Marks said.
He said playing away games in the country can also involve running onto a ground to play straight after a two or three hour bus trip.
“Eating and drinking the right things at the right time is really, really important. Stephanie’s advice has been very beneficial to those kids.”
The Club has retained Ms Walker to continue her educational work with the juniors throughout the 2014 season.
Lecturer in nutrition and dietetics Dr Kathryn Jackson said the independent study projects are designed to provide students with exposure to the working world of dietitians.
“In this case, Steph’s interest in sports nutrition was easily provided for, and she slotted into the WAFC straight away. The Under-16 and Under-18 players immediately took on board her advice about hydration,” said Dr Jackson, who is also a practising sports dietitian.
“She did an excellent job on the project, both academically and in practice.”