Please tell us about yourself
Growing up in the heartland of Indian football in Goa never influenced Shona D Miranda,who dreamt of playing basketball instead. With genes,luck and instincts though,she eventually found herself on the football field last year,but in a different role, as tournament physiotherapist for the national under-21 championships. A year later,she raised her profile to be the only female physio among the top-brass Indian football clubs,and is currently associated with Churchill Brothers.
Miranda credits the reversal of fortunes to her brother Lloyd Simoes,former physio of Salgaocar SC,the football-crazy atmosphere in her hometown Cavelossim and former Indian cricket team physio Ali Irani.
Tell us about your work
Shona Miranda’s job is all about healing injuries and niggles and keeping footballers in the best shape possible. That she is at the beck and calling of a men’s team doesn’t bother her at all.
Physiotherapist for reigning I-League and Federation Cup champions Churchill Brothers for five years now, Miranda is also the only woman in that role in top flight Indian football. “It’s something I love doing as I get a positive outcome. That I work with men makes no difference to me,” said Miranda who is also from Goa.
A lot of people have asked me about dealing with the men’s team but I have had no problems. All the players are very comfortable with my presence in the dressing room and treat me as a professional. As students of physiotherapy we have to handle any sport but my association with football has been so strong that I don;t think I will be able to look after any other sportsmen, Miranda says,speaking to Sportline. After working for a couple of years I have realised the need to understand the game you are dealing with. An injury in cricket will be different from that of football and areas of the body susceptible to injuries vary from sport to sport. I can’t switch now because I understand the technicalities of football better than any other game,she adds.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and exciting career?
Miranda’s first fling with professional physiotherapy was during her internship under former India cricket team physio Ali Irani at Mumbai’s Nanavati hospital and amidst cricketers past and present. “Anil (Kumble) used to come often and so did Mohammed Azharuddin as he suffered from shoulder pains,” said the 27-year old. According to Miranda, one of the main reasons she entered the profession was her cousin brother Lloyd Simoes who was also a physio with Salgaocar.
“We are always so used to seeing men in the support staff of foot ball teams. Lloyd helped me a lot. But Dr Irani was the driving force. My boss at Churchill said I had to be come the team’s physio and my dad was beside me all the time,” said Miranda who joined Churchill Brothers in 2009.
This journey in sports medicine had her shifting bases continuously from Mysore to Goa to Mumbai but Irani’s piece of advice has been a constant. Right from being an intern at the Nanavati in Mumbai, Irani’s influence has been huge.
Miranda gives an example of how handy that piece of advice still is. Odafa,being our main player,needs special care. A few days ago he had some toe problem which I assessed as some gout problem that arises due to accumulation of uric acid. But I wasn’t sure and called for Ali Irani’s advice. He insisted it wasn’t gout and just a sprain. I followed his suggestions and the uneasiness disappeared within days, the 23-year-old says.
Miranda,however,has signed just a year’s contract with the Goan club. I don’t know whether I will still be with the team after a year. I have to complete my Masters degree to be eligible for working outside India and study orthopaedics . That’s a different dream but I will stick to football, she says.
Your experience with physiotherapy so far?
The five years with Churchill Brothers Miranda feels has improved her as a physiotherapist. “You get to see a lot of different injuries. Most of them are musculo skeletal injuries. And the way you treat a foreign footballer is completely different from how you treat an Indian. So the experience has been good so far,” she said. Barring the few years when Air India used to have women physiotherapists earlier in the decade, India’s football clubs have rarely had any female presence in the team.
What did you study?
I did my Bachelor’s in Physiotherapy from SDM College of Physiotherapy and MSc Sports Physiotherapy and Exercise Medicine from Middlesex University.
Iam currently working as Senior Physiotherapist for Crystal Palace Physio Group