Two University of Southern Queensland students are playing a crucial role in preparing the Solomon Islands for the 2023 Pacific Games on their home soil.
Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science (Honours) students Belinda Redmond and Casey Timaloa are putting their knowledge and skills to the test by assisting the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport (SINIS).
The partnership provides the students with a unique insight into working with a national sporting organisation and the chance to extend their learning in high performance and sports science.
The Solomon Islands hope the assistance will give them an edge over their rivals and lift them up the medal tally, having finished in 13th place at the last Pacific Games in 2019.
Mrs Redmond said she wanted to seize the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity and gain as much knowledge as possible.
“I’m enjoying learning the finer details of working with elite and emerging athletes in applying sports and exercise science principles to enhance their performance in their chosen sport,” she said.
“I’m also interested to learn and understand some of the challenges faced by local coaches and athletes in their country, whereby they may have different availability in equipment or services, and different dietary, sleep and exercise practices to what we have in Australia.”
Working with Aaron Alsop, Executive Director of High Performance at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport, the pair have been preparing educational content on athlete nutrition and hydration, sleep, recovery techniques, and health and wellbeing.
However, travel restrictions due to the pandemic have forced them to conduct their meetings over Zoom.
“It has challenged us and made us step out of our comfort zone,” Ms Timaloa said.
“However, it has presented us an opportunity to learn how to communicate more effectively and coach within a culturally diverse environment.
“The key to our delivery will be implementing effective strategies taking into consideration the athletes’ cultural norms, availability and access to foods, equipment, and the hot and humid environments.”
University of Southern Queensland Associate Professor Stephen Bird said it was an exciting opportunity for the students to contribute to the Solomon Islands’ elite sports framework.
“Our collaboration with SINIS not only allows our students to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting but provides an opportunity for them to learn new skills in a high-performance setting in the lead up to the 2023 Pacific Games,” he said.
With some luck, Mrs Redmond and Ms Timaloa will travel to the Institute in Honiara later this year to continue their work in person.
“This would be an amazing opportunity for us to work more closely with the athletes, sport and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, doctors, psychologists and nutritionists,” Mrs Redmond said.
“We would tackle tasks like athlete testing, assisting with the development of training programs, strength and conditioning, and supporting talent identification.”
Mrs Redmond and Ms Timaloa are supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program, which provides opportunities for Australian undergraduate students to participate in study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research within the Indo-Pacific region.
Have a passion for sport, exercise, health or fitness? With a combination of sports and exercise courses and professional placements with our Sport and Exercise Clinic, Strength and Conditioning and Research Laboratories, the University of Southern Queensland’s Sport and Exercise and Strength and Conditioning degrees prepares you for a career in the rapidly expanding health, sports and fitness industry.