Sneha Chawla

Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation BSc

My placement was fun because I got hands-on experience and learned so much.

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I loved the idea of studying sports and medicine together but I didn’t want to be a doctor so this course seemed like a good way to be in the field. I grew up playing football and basketball and watching teams like Arsenal and Manchester United. I’m from Curaçao in the Caribbean and initially I went to study in Florida but tuition was really expensive and job opportunities were a bit limited because of visa restrictions. Luckily for me Curaçao is a constituent country of The Netherlands, which means I have Dutch citizenship and can study in the UK as an EU student, so I decided to move to the UK from the US.  That’s how I came to apply for the course at Kent.

Spending time on placement is a key part of your course – tell us what you have done.

On this course, you do placements alongside your studies, rather than doing a separate placement year. So in the first year we did 50 hours of sports massage, which was organised as part of the course. In the second year you have to apply for placements outside the University and I got a placement at Dartfordians Rugby Club. That was really fun because I got hands-on experience and I learned so much.  The placement is where you put all your knowledge that you’ve learned in classes into practice and get the experience you need to become a sports therapist.

Now I’m in my third year, I’m working with Charlton Athletic women’s [football] team. I work under the head physio over there for the women’s first team, and I work pitch-side for the  under-16s and under-12s teams by myself as well, so that’s fun. I love it because it’s such a great opportunity to work at such a prestigious club, it’s very exciting . I also do some work with local girls’ football teams in Medway and I did some hours over the summer at the sports clinic at Medway Park. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy getting hands-on experience before I go out in the real world.

Are you involved in sport in your spare time too?

I don’t actually play sport but I’m involved in Team Medway Social and I also help with BUCS [the organisation that runs sports competitions between universities]. With this plus my placement and also working as a student ambassador for my course I don’t feel like I have time to play sport at the moment.

I joined Team Medway Social because I wanted to get involved in uni life and make friends, and I also get to promote health and fitness on campus, which goes hand in hand with my course. And I get paid, so for me it’s three benefits all in one. It’s about commitment too, which I really value, and I think it’s helping me to grow as a person. We run different classes and events – for example we have Zumba and Pilates classes every week and I set up the room for the instructor and register people and chat to them as they come in. I’ve only started working for BUCS in the last few weeks  and that’s mostly helping with admin, emailing fixture lists, organising transport, kit and so on.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m hoping to stick around the UK for a year or two and work at a football club or rugby club or in a clinic like a sports injury or sports rehab clinic. That would be great. And then save enough to do a Master’s in physiotherapy either here, or in the Netherlands, or Australia – anywhere I can, I’m happy to travel around. After I get my Master’s, I’ll see where that takes me. I think the dream would be to work for a Premier League team – Arsenal is the dream for now.

What’s been the highlight of your course so far?

I think partly it’s having the opportunity to work with a team such as Charlton Athletic, I think that’s great. Also, in a weird way, it’s realising how grateful, how blessed I am to be here and just being able to make use of all my resources and enjoy everything. The whole experience is a highlight.