Barbadian Marita Marshall presently works as a physiotherapist with the West Indies Women’s cricket team. She has also worked with netball, hockey, tennis, and rugby teams. Marshall affirmed that she always wanted to work in a profession that allowed her to help people. “This coupled with my love for sports inspired me to pursue a career in sports physiotherapy”. Marshall has been a physiotherapist for six years. Her education includes a bachelors degree in Physical Therapy then a masters degree in Sports Medicine. Previously she was a competitive swimmer at the club and school levels for six years.
Marshall loves the opportunities her career provides her. For instance, travelling the world and meeting other persons involved in sports. On the other hand, she sometimes dreads the long hours of work. Marshall noted that she has encountered challenges working with various coaches and getting them to recognise that the health of the athlete should take precedence over winning. She further confessed that making the decision to rule athletes out of play/competition is never an easy task. In order to cope with those challenges, she has learnt that “education is key and always helps coaches to have a better appreciation of various situations. Good communication also helps athletes understand that injury is sometimes part of their journey in sport and can be overcome with the right help.”
While she would not change anything in her career because she has learnt to enjoy the ups and downs, there are a few improvements she would like to see in her occupation. “I’d like to see more collaboration of physiotherapists among other professionals within sport. The sports physiotherapist today is required to work with more professionals than in previous years eg. psychologists, strength and conditioning coach, sports scientists, exercise physiologists (to name a few) are more prevalent in teams’ support staff.”
A physiotherapist usually encounters clients with serious injuries and Marshall is no exception. “I’ve had several athletes and patients with serious injuries, I always encourage them to take each day as it comes and use it as an opportunity to work towards their goals. It’s often difficult when injuries prevent persons from doing the things that they love but it makes it a little easier when we can point out small improvements which become big achievements in their rehab journey.”
When questioned about her thoughts on the perception that positions/occupations in the field of sports should only be held by men, she told us she enjoys the fact that “This trend is changing rapidly. Over the last few years I’ve seen a vast increase in the number of women being involved in sports from coaching to board positions. I believe women should continue to strive for any position or role they see themselves in. We women are capable of anything we set our minds to!”
There has been an increase in the number of female role models who have an interest in pursuing a sports-related occupation “I believe that there are a number of female role models out there but we need to continue to highlight them. I’m always happy to share my experiences with others, especially young girls who may not believe they can work in sport. I’m happy to be a woman in sport and pave a way for many others to follow.”
Several professionals have claimed to experience a moment of enlightenment which makes them think that they can have successful careers in their chosen field. For Marshall it was her transition to working in elite professional sports and its benefits. Those benefits included overcoming lots of self-doubt and practicing positive self-talks. These helped her to be confident about her career in Physiotherapy.
As a physiotherapist, she noted that she is best known for her attention to detail, dedication and enthusiasm. The part of her career which comes easiest to her is her ability to relate and communicate with persons. However, the most difficult part of her career is making sound decisions in tough situations. “Making quick decisions in sport is never an easy task especially having many things to consider.” There are various things that her career has taught her that carry into the other areas of her life. She noted that “sometimes we make mistakes/ bad decisions but it’s how we learn from those mistakes/ bad decisions that matters most. In addition, situations in sporting environments can change rapidly, it’s important to always stay focused on the things we can control. Adaptability is critical in life.”
Marshall stated that her greatest strength is her passion for what she does. On the other hand, her greatest weakness is letting go of difficult situations. What excites her most about her career is being able to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
She has had many achievements to date such as travelling on many international tours, presenting at various conferences and volunteering with various associations so far in her career. Marshall would like to encourage others to pursue a career in physical therapy. “The self-fulfillment gained from helping others in rehabilitation is second to none!” Moreover, in 5-10 years she hopes to be able to continue making valid contributions to sports whether at an administrative level or within her own sorts rehabilitation facility.
Marshall’s mantra is “everything is life happens for a reason; trust the process.”