Project Description

Sports Science Physiotherapy Center Internship Program

The Sports Science Physiotherapy Institute Internship Program represents the first comprehensive physical therapy internship program of its kind in Africa. Participants receive a hands-on practical experience under the professional supervision of South Africa’s most accomplished sports physical therapists. Following the completion of a 1-week rotation at the SSPC, participants start an internship with the Cape Town City FC soccer club and work directly with professional athletes under the supervision of the team’s physical therapy staff.

This is a structured immersion internship with additional supervision, professional mentorship, and support. The objective is to provide you with a hands-on internship experience in South Africa. The program runs on fixed dates that are listed below. 


VACorps is partnered with the Sports Science Physiotherapy Centre to offer a world-class internship experience. Through a combination of active mentorship, discussion, reflection and relevant hands-on practical experience, the program delivers an immersive physical therapy internship in South Africa. You will develop practical skills at the SSPC and then transition to a full-time internship with one of the top soccer teams in South Africa, Cape Town City FC. This is the first immersive PT program of its kind in Africa.

Program schedule during weeks 1 at the SSISA:


  • Tour of the practice and introduction to physiotherapists
  • Tour of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa:
    • Orthopaedic Centre and Hospital
    • Sports Medicine Practice,
    • Biokinetics, Dietetics and Podiatry practices,
    • Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Department
    • Biomechanics Laboratory


  • Participants will shadow each of the SSPC physiotherapists for one session a day.
  • Participants will be exposed to various conditions and treatment approaches.
  • Sit-in on professional assessments of new patients.
  • Observe new and follow-up treatment sessions.
  • Observe exercise prescription and gym sessions.


  • 1 volunteer patient (musculoskeletal/sports injury) will be arranged for the student to complete an assessment and continue with treatment over the 2-week SSPC clinical block.
  • Students will be guided through all interviews, assessments, planning of treatments and treatments.
  • Students will always work under supervision.


  • Students to shadow the administration of shockwave treatment.
  • Grasp a clear understanding of the administration and therapeutic use of ECST.


The Sports Science Orthopaedics Centre is headed by Dr. Willem van der Merwe, a specialist knee Orthopaedic Surgeon. Other orthopedic specialists include Drs Steve Roche and Basil Vrettos (Shoulder), Dr. Hayden Hobbs (Knee), and Dr. Narramore (Ankle and foot). The doctors perform day procedures at the centre.

  • Participants to observe surgery and post-operative assessment and treatment of patients
  • Observe assessments and follow-ups with the various surgeons.


Home to the Grucox eccentric ergometer – this specialized unit is utilized in the training or rehabilitation process. It is unique in that it applies the principle of eccentric training to achieve the desired results and has been successfully utilized during post knee and hip surgery rehabilitation. The Grucox cycles have also used as a strength training tool post- injury and in the event of non- surgical treatment of hip and knee injuries.

All rehabilitation and training sessions conducted at the center are monitored by a healthcare professional (physiotherapist or a biokineticist), who has a vast knowledge of the eccentric principle and the training process.

  • Students to shadow and observe at the Grucox Centre.


High-Performance Centre provides scientific and medical testing, monitoring and the direct application of the results of a high quality applied research programme for athletes in many sporting codes of all abilities. The High-Performance Centre caters for novice and non-elite athletes, individuals, teams, and coaches and professional athletes.

• Students to observing fitness testing of athletes and teams

• Shadow trainers and athletes during strength training sessions

• Observe “return to play” testing of athletes and patients.


Drs Jason Suter, Jeroen Swart and Leigh Gordon head the Sport and Exercise Medicine practice at the SSISA. The practice is also staffed by associate physicians Adrian Rotunno, Sid Allie,Caro D’alton, Michael Kiessig and Gabriel Prinsloo. The practice treats highly trained athletes, recreational sports enthusiasts and those who have a medical condition that needs treatment. It’s also home to state of the art facilities and a team of highly trained members of staff who are available for the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of disease and injury. The Sport and Exercise Medicine practice forms a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that includes: physiotherapists, biokineticists, dieticians and psychologists.

  • Students to observe assessments and follow-ups with the various doctors (NOTE: this activity is subject to the schedule and availability of the doctors)


Chris Delpierre Podiatry provides podiatric care of the highest possible standard to all members of the community as well as elite level athletes. The treatments offered can vary from routine maintenance of a chronic condition to fine tuning the sports shoe of a professional sportsperson.

  • Students to spend half a day observing assessments and follow-ups of patients— particularly runners.


Shelly Meltzer & Associates offer a complete package of dietary services for anyone who wants to optimize his or her diet in order to improve their health and performance. The practice focuses on delivering scientifically-based solutions that link the science and practice of nutrition. Our team of registered dietitians has a wealth of clinical and sports nutrition training and experience, which enables us to offer dietary interventions in order to treat clinical conditions and sports specific diets for recreational and elite athletes.

  • Participants will spend a half day discussing assessments and follow-ups of patients particularly athletes.


The Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine exists as a centre of excellence for promoting a healthy, active lifestyle and optimal physical performance, through research, innovation, teaching, training, and clinical services. 
In 1981 Professor Noakes began his exercise research in a small laboratory in the basement of the former Department of Physiology within the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, with one laboratory assistant and a single bicycle. Now at any given time, there are at least 80 research projects underway.

The UCT Biomechanics Lab houses an 8-motion camera Vicon system with 2 force plates and a wireless electromyography system. Cricket bowling action and walking/running gait analysis are conducted here under the supervision of the resident engineer. Gait analysis studies should be of particular interest to physiotherapy students

• Students are welcome to assist with research testing or observation for 1 day when available


The government-funded healthcare sector in South Africa is unique in its functioning, specifically as it relates to the communities within a developing country. Students will have the opportunity to observe the physiotherapy services at various levels of public health institutions.

Program Schedule for weeks 2-4 (additional weeks also possible):


Cape Town City Football Club competes in the highest professional football league in South Africa- Premier Soccer League (PSL). The club also fields a team in the national under 23 club competition – Supersport Diski League.

  • Students will work under the supervision of the first-team physiotherapist and in conjunction with the other sport science professionals assisting in the rehabilitation and conditioning of the players.
  • Students may be required to assist on match days and may also be required to travel with either team for away matches.

Participation Requirements:

  • Appropriate knowledge of anatomy and pathophysiology.
  • Appropriate knowledge of physiotherapy assessment, treatment and rehabilitation planning.
  • Ability to work independently under the guidance/supervision of a qualified physiotherapist.
  • Valid Basic Life Support Skills Qualification.
  • Valid international Student Physiotherapist Indemnity Certificate.

Participation recommendations:

  • Valid level 1 Sports First Aid qualification /equivalent.
  • Previous experience in a high performance /professional sports team environment.

The Program Leaders:

Theo Calligeris is the Chief Sports Physiotherapist and Director of the SSPC & SSMC. He is one of the most sought-after physiotherapists in Cape Town yet is passionate about sharing his knowledge with students who are studying to become physical therapists/physiotherapists. He previously served as a Member of Team South Africa during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2008 World Track and Field World Games, and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. His additional professional experience includes Physiotherapist to Stormers Super 12 Rugby Team, Member of the AJAX CT Medical Team, Official appointed Sports Physiotherapist to Cape Town Stadium at FIFA World Cup 2010, Official FIFA 11+ Instructor 2010, and assisting Cape Town City FC in the Premiership League.

Ian Meder graduated with a BSc.(Physiotherapy) Hons. in 2001 from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and a Master’s in Physiotherapy in 2013. He has worked with professional soccer teams Ajax Cape Town FC and Santos FC as the lead physiotherapist as well as at several multi-code sports events, including the World Student Games and the Commonwealth Games. Ian has a special interest in soccer injuries (particularly hip/groin and hamstring injuries) and currently consults with professional soccer teams Cape Town City FC and Mamelodi Sundowns FC in Cape Town.

About the SSPC:

The Sports Science Physiotherapy Centre (SSPC) first opened its doors for business at the famous Sports Science Institue of South Africa in August 2002. The practice aims to provide a holistic, comprehensive and scientific service to all professional, amateur and recreational athletes in all sporting codes, as well as all members of the public. Founded by Theo Calligeris and Matime Diale, what started out as a two-man practice called Calligeris & Diale Physiotherapists has since developed into an internationally recognized service-delivery centre that was renamed the SSPC in 2006.

The practice offers sports physiotherapy, post- and pre-operative orthopaedic rehabilitation, injury management planning in prevention and return to play (RTP) with an annual plan. SSPC also specializes in sales of a variety of braces and consumables for injury and performance, while massage therapy is offered through the Sports Science Massage Centre (SSMC). The SSPC has always upheld the highest standards in service delivery and is committed to efficacy and an evidence-based, innovative approach to rehabilitation, manual therapy in sports physiotherapy.

NOTE: This is a fixed date program and you must apply for a position in one of the following sessions:

  • SESSION 3: July 22nd, 2018 (1 spot remaining)
  • SESSION 4: September 3rd, 2018
  • SESSION 1 (2019): February 4th, 2019
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