Get to know Huddersfield Town’s First Team and Academy staff
- ‘Know Your Role’ series continues
- Today we spoke to Academy Physiotherapist, Stella Zhang
- Stella’s role involves looking after the Academy’s injured players
With the coronavirus currently postponing Town’s fixture list, we’ve decided to introduce you to some of our First Team and Academy Staff – today we look at Academy Physiotherapist Stella Zhang!
Stella, who hails from Sydney, Australia, joined Town at the start of the current campaign as an Academy Physiotherapist.
She started out in ‘Aussie Rules’ nine years ago and worked her way up to a physiotherapy role in the sport’s professional league; the AFL.
Having fulfilled a personal passion by working in football overseas here at Huddersfield Town, Stella now works alongside two other Academy physios to help the injured Young Terriers get back on the pitch.
“My role involves planning their rehab and taking them through it on field and in the gym to make sure they come back stronger than before,” she said.
“As well as that, I play a role in recovery and mobility development by running yoga sessions for the First Team and the EDT once a week.
“I also cover games, which involves a lot of travel, but it is always fun when there is an exciting fixture!”
Stella’s role sees her play a vital part in assisting the recovery of the Young Terriers on the sidelines. But what does an average day look like for the Town Academy physio?
“My day always starts with a meeting with the Performance Team. We go through all the players so we know what the day looks like, as it can be pretty chaotic with so many players on different schedules!
“I then work with my injured players on a one-to-one basis throughout the day. Depending on where they are in their rehab, I’ll be out on the grass or in the gym.
“In between all of this, we prepare the boys for the numerous training sessions throughout the day. And let’s face it, we’re talking about footballers here, so I’d be shocked if I went a day without a player asking for some TLC!”
As well as working with the players themselves, Stella also works closely with the Performance Team on a daily basis. Working as part of a tight knit group with her peers is one of her two favourite things about the job.
“The first would be working in a team environment. It is really great that I get to know the staff and players really well as you spend so much time with them, and I’ve always felt that your football club is your family, rather than just your colleagues.
“The second is that no two days are the same. I don’t think I could have coped working a 9-5 office job, and I love that I am constantly challenged and doing something different.
“My job takes up a huge chunk of my life, and often at unsociable hours, but I absolutely love it.”
As well as the positives, there has also been challenges that Stella has had to overcome when working in the sport.
“Football is traditionally a ‘man’s world’ so the biggest challenge for me is being able to establish myself as a female professional in football and rid the stereotypes that often come with females working in football.
“It’s not easy, but I’m hoping to help pave the way for future females wanting to work in football.
“Another challenge is trying to understand the West Yorkshire accent, but it helps now that I have taught the boys some Australian slang!”
If working in football is for you, Stella also had some words of advice from her experience in the industry!
“Working in football is hard, especially if you’re a female, but it can also be so rewarding.
“If you’ve ever thought about having a career in football, get out there and do as much as you can to learn as it is very competitive.
“I have worked countless hours for free at the start of my career, and wondered if it was all worth it, but it all helped in getting me to where I am now.
“Also, don’t be afraid to push boundaries! It is the only way football can continue to move forward.”