Premier Futsal has captured the attention of people in the city — thanks to names like Luis Figo, Virat Kohli and A.R.Rahman, who have been brought on board to be the president, brand ambassador and the music composer respectively. Though you might not be familiar with one more exciting addition, he’s one of the most important faces when it comes to modern day sports.
Shayamal Vallabhjee, a prominent sports scientist and EQ consultant in the country, is joining Premier Futsal as a board member and consultant.
When his dream to become a professional cricketer did not materialise, South African-born Shayamal went on to study sports science — and has thus far coached 40 Olympic athletes and 10 professional sports teams. He was in the city recently during the launch of Premier Futsal. In a candid conversation with DC, he shares his fitness secrets and speaks about his excitement in coming to Chennai, and how sports science is important for modern day athletes.
“I’m thoroughly excited to be a part of Premier Futsal. It’s such a dynamic version of the game and with all the stars associated with it, it’s bound to lay the platform for something bigger and more exciting in football in India,” starts Shayamal. He goes on to say that he used to train other sports persons with this version of football — “I used this version of the game to train many international cricketers early on.”
Sharing interesting insights about his profession, he says, “I have worked with professional athletes for almost 17 years. I started off with the South African cricket team and then progressed to work with the Indian cricket team, Indian Davis Cup team, and Indian Olympic Association. I also also spent a significant amount of time on the ATP tours.”
Speaking about what he brings to a sports team, Shayamal explains, “I specialise in understanding and quantifying the parameters of success behind the game. Also, my approach towards the game is always to how we can create systems that can bring the best out of athletes during training and
Shayamal, in fact, is no stranger to our city. His company, HEAL, in Mumbai, is the sports science partner to Chennaiyin FC. He has also trained many tennis players including Mahesh Bhupathi for the Chennai Tennis Open.
As our conversation progresses, he excitedly shares details of some of the innovative things they do at HEAL — “Our institute specialises in performance enhancement and injury management. We use an insole that can measure your gait whilst you run and predict injury from it. We also have sensors in helmets for contact sports to limit concussion injuries.”
In spite of all this, Shayamal feels that the country still does not have enough awareness about sports science. “While the leagues in India could garner a billion dollar valuation, they still don’t understand and value the importance of science in maintaining player health and ensuring longevity. I think it is going to take some time for major role players to understand the return on investment with good sports science. There’s also the problem of not having enough qualified therapists. I’m probably one of three to four experienced sports scientists in the country, and that’s not enough,” he muses.
On a concluding note, Shayamal, who is a marathon runner himself, shares few of his fitness secrets with us. “My training regime is based around running and cycling — I cover about 70-90 kms running and around 200-250 km cycling and about two to three gym sessions in a week. I love to experiment as well, so I’m currently trying dance and yoga quite sincerely!” he signs off....