“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.” Yayoi Kusama

It is a hot and wet February in Johannesburg and the excitement of the December holidays is starting to fade away  and as life gets back to its normal hustle and bustle, we took time out to speak to a pioneer of success in a male dominated industry of Sports Physio Ms. Chumaninande “Nande” Mjajubana.

IMG-20160202-WA0002It is an honor and privilege to for us at Grit Sports to introduce Chumaninande “Nande” Mjajubana and in her own words; “Chumaninande is a girl from the Eastern Cape, eNgcobo to be specific. Born of the Dosini clan, amaMpondomise. I’m a lover of sports – watching it and working with athletes. I love socialising with people, I enjoy meeting new people; I love eating out but I also enjoy cooking and entertaining people. Am a qualified as a physiotherapist at the University of Cape Town.”

Nande is no stranger to overcoming the odds as she puts it; “Interestingly enough, in my undergrad class, we were predominantly (80-85%) female and it seems to be the case in most of the years that followed. So it’s rather interesting where the change starts to happen. Sports Physio is definitely still male dominated, particularly with physios who work with teams. Some teams make it clear they don’t want a female physio others are less overt about it. Individual athletes on the other hand, seem less bothered, as long as you know what you are doing. I’ve been fortunate to work under a physio, Wayne Holroyd, who has a very good reputation in the sporting fraternity. So I am learning a lot. Also, doing my Masters in sports physio tends to “boost” my image somewhat. The minute I mention I’m doing my Masters, people tend to look at you differently.”

“You can be what you want to be, for as long as you put your mind to it!”  Nande

IMG-20160202-WA0000Despite all her success Nande continues to rise, she told us about her thesis; “It’s proving to be very interesting! I’m at the data collection stage of my thesis now. Just to tell you a little about my research; It’s a study that was commissioned by SARU. After doing a rugby density census of all rugby players in the country (from U7 through to senior professional players), SARU want me to look at the healthcare facilities in the province of KwaZulu Natal (both private and government) – coming up with a player:hospital ratio as well as map out the geographical location of these hospitals, in relation to rugby playing population.  So in essence, what they want to know is: should a rugby player sustain a catastrophic head, neck or spinal injury, how far is the nearest hospital?”

IMG-20160202-WA0001Nande is someone who comes from humble beginnings and has always taken her future in her own hands; “My mother has always encouraged my siblings and I, to become independent and to do what we love! I first decided I want to be a physio in high school. I was in standard 8, yes I’m that old I still refer to “standards” *chuckles*, that’s Grade10, at Pietermaritzburg Girls’High School. I approached the 1st team Basketball coach and told her I wanted to the team’s physio. Whenever I watched sports, I always wanted to be the person who runs onto the field when a player was down. So when she agreed, you can imagine how excited I was. I got to “travel” with them. I would do the warm up and the stretching, other than that, I was just the water “boy” but I loved it! My 1st “tour” was to the Love Life games with our 1st team basketball, I haven’t looked back since.”

Every successful person has a career defining moment; “Gosh! 2015 in July, when I started working for Holroyd, Goodenough & Associates Physio was when I started living my dream! In this short space of time, I have worked with the KZN U19 Academy side that played in the Durban International U19 football tournament, which had teams such as Arsenal, PSV and AC Milan. Some of those players have now been signed with local based teams. I have also had the pleasure of working with the KZN netball team, a majority of whom play for the Kingdom Stars which is the KZN side that participates in the Brutal Fruit Netball competition. Working from Prime Human Performance Institute, at Moses Mabhida Stadium, has also been a highlight as it is such an amazing facility and we get to work with a great team of sports doctors, biokineticists and dieticians. So, really, the latter half of 2015 has been a highlight as a whole, with the promise of more to come!”  

IMG-20160202-WA0003There are plenty of black children and aspiring sports women and men out there, this is her message to them; “The biggest cliché, the sky truly is the limit, still rings true. You can be what you want to be, for as long as you put your mind to it! A dream can become your reality and you will be able to live it. With a whole lot of hard work, some faith and a sprinkle of good luck and fortune, anything is possible.”

On what her exciting future holds for her and what we could look forward to; “I have never been one to think that far ahead. But when I started my physio degree, I had a poster on my wall, which had the following: 1.Graduate as a physio. 2. Do Masters in Sports Physio. 3. Go overseas and work for a few years. 4. Be the 1st black female Springbok physio… I’ve ticked two of the four… watch this space *wink*”

Indeed everything is possible especially with pioneers like Nande leading the way.