The Cambodian capital’s top football club, Phnom Penh Crown, has just hired a female physiotherapist.Andy Brouwer talks with the ground-breaking Lidwina Niewold.
Nowadays, for mega football clubs such as Chelsea its almost common practice to employ female medical staff, but for a team in the Cambodian Football League it’s unheard of. So what’s the story behind Phnom Penh Crown’s mould-breaking female physio, Lidwina Niewold?
A twin, with four brothers and a sister, Niewold grew up in Brummen, Holland, where football was popular for girls. This enabled her to play regularly and to help train a girl’s team for a couple of years.
“I come from a football-playing family and played as soon as I could,” she says. “But I suffered an injury when I was 20 and didn’t get it treated properly. So I know from my own experience how important it is to make sure players get the best possible treatment.”
Niewold studied physiotheraphy in Utrecht for four years including an internship in Indonesia for six months. “That was an amazing experience,” she says. “I worked in a hospital and then a small health care center in the countryside, and with disabled children.”
She came to Cambodia in November 2011 to work with Dick van der Poel at the Physiotherapy Phnom Penh Clinic. Early on she treated one of the Crown Academy boys and things kicked off from there. She attended a few Academy games, took over the rehabilitation of one of the players, Kouch Sokumpheak and was then invited by head coach Sam Schweingruber, to get involved with the senior team.
“I’m addicted to football, I love it,” she says. “The fact that I can be involved on the pitch and use my physio skills at the same time is like living my childhood dream.”
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