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. As a participant, you will receive practical experience under the professional supervision of sports physical therapists from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Following the completion of a 1-week rotation at the SSPC, you will start an internship with the Cape Town City FC soccer club under the guidance of the team’s physical therapy staff.


VACorps is partnered with the Sports Science Physiotherapy Centre and Cape Town City FC to offer a unique internship experience. Through a combination of supervision, discussion, reflection and relevant hands-on practical experience, the program delivers a comprehensive look at sports physical therapy in South Africa. You will develop practical skills at the SSPC and then participate in a full-time internship with one of the top soccer teams in South Africa, Cape Town City FC. During your internship with the team, you will attend practices and matches and work directly with professional athletes.

Program schedule during week 1 at the SSISA:

(NOTE- this is an example schedule that is subject to change due to the availability of the staff at the SSISA. During your introductory meeting at the SSISA, your program supervisor will share an updated schedule of your week 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.


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.


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.


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

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:

[Primary Coordinator] 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.

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.

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 4: September 3rd, 2018 or October 18th, 2018.
  • SESSION 1: February 4th or March 7th, 2019.
  • SESSION 2: May 23rd, 2019.
  • SESSION 3: July 18th, 2019.
  • SESSION 4: September 5th, or October 17th, 2019.
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