phys­io­ther­a­pist keen to lead by ex­am­ple

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Jen­nifer Kha­lik hopes to in­spire more Pa­cific Is­landers to fol­low in her foot­steps af­ter she be­came the first Fi­jian med­i­cal trainer to de­liver the World Rugby Level 2 Im­me­di­ate Care in Rugby (ICIR) course.

Kha­lik was signed off as a course di­rec­tor hav­ing im­pressed World Rugby Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion Man­ager, Is­abel Grondin and Ocea­nia Rugby Re­gional Train­ing Man­ager, Talemo Waqa last year.

The Fiji Rugby Union em­ployee de­liv­ered her first ICIR course in the coun­try’s north­ern re­gion in March, be­com­ing both the first Pa­cific Is­lan­der and phys­io­ther­a­pist to do so.

Plans for Kha­lik to de­liver the course in Fiji’s central and west­ern re­gions were sub­se­quently put on hold due to mea­sures put in place to com­bat the COVID-19 out­break.

“It felt re­ally good to be signed off, par­tic­u­larly be­ing the first med­i­cal per­son from Fiji. It was a very big mo­ment,” she told World Rugby.

“I’ve al­ways run cour­ses with sup­port from [of­fi­cials from] ei­ther Aus­tralia or New Zealand or with Is­abel and this was the first time for me to run one on my own. It was a re­ally big con­fi­dence booster. I was re­ally happy to know that I could do it.”


Waqa is con­fi­dent that Kha­lik can mo­ti­vate women, Pa­cific Is­landers and fel­low phys­ios to con­sider be­com­ing ICIR course di­rec­tors and the Fi­jian con­curs with that.

“I didn’t think I could do this but I was men­tored with the help of Is­abel, Talemo and War­ren [MacDonald, World Rugby Med­i­cal Trainer. If I can do it, def­i­nitely they can do it,” Kha­lik said.

“The first time I did the course I was ter­ri­fied, it was com­pletely dif­fer­ent from what we nor­mally do as phys­io­ther­a­pists. But, you know, do­ing the course has given me more con­fi­dence.” Kha­lik’s path to be­com­ing a course di­rec­tor has been a long one. It was four years ago that Waqa, who hired the physio at Fiji Rugby, first had the idea to train her up to de­liver ICIR cour­ses.

The ben­e­fits of hav­ing lo­cal med­i­cal train­ers and course di­rec­tors are huge in the Pa­cific Is­lands

as it means that Waqa is not re­liant on peo­ple trav­el­ling from Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Kha­lik had shown her ap­ti­tude for med­i­cal mat­ters when she took part in the first ICIR course to be de­liv­ered in the Pa­cific, in Tonga in 2016.

The Fi­jian had been told that she had got a few ques­tions wrong in the exam por­tion of the course but hav­ing asked World Rugby con­sul­tant Andy Smith what she needed to work on, suc­cess­fully ar­gued that she had in fact given the cor­rect an­swers.

“She ac­tu­ally is one of the first peo­ple to get 100 per cent in the mul­ti­ple choice exam,” Waqa told World Rugby.

“She has got good ethics, good work ethics, she has got very good dis­ci­pline, she pre­pares well, ar­tic­u­lates well, she’s a smart lady.”


Kha­lik sub­se­quently at­tended an ICIR course in Lon­don, where her name was put for­ward for a train­ers and ed­u­ca­tors work­shop.

On her re­turn Waqa en­sured that she kept work­ing to­wards the goal of be­com­ing the first Fi­jian to de­liver a course.

“Once I came out of Fiji Rugby and was in World Rugby I kept nudg­ing her (to­wards) her role as an ed­u­ca­tor and a trainer,” he added. “She’s smart enough to do that. While she’s very timid in na­ture, hum­ble, we kept on push­ing her and right now she is full on and she’s get­ting her rhythm.”

And once life in Fiji re­turns to nor­mal and she is able to focus again on that work as a trainer and ed­u­ca­tor, Kha­lik is very am­bi­tious about what she can achieve.

“Right now my goal is, along with Fiji Rugby, just to try and train up as many med­i­cal per­son­nel as we can, par­tic­u­larly at com­mu­nity level,” she said.

“Be­cause we’ve only been train­ing medics who work at the elite level and now with me be­ing able to de­liver solo it’s a huge op­por­tu­nity for Fiji Rugby to get those who are work­ing with com­mu­nity-level rugby trained, so that the ser­vice that we de­liver at the higher level is the same as at the com­mu­nity level, there’s a stan­dard.

“And also it ben­e­fits our play­ers. I think now Fiji Rugby’s step­ping up and say­ing we’ll take re­spon­si­bil­ity and we’re go­ing to start train­ing peo­ple to en­sure that our play­ers are looked af­ter.

“Also I think it’s im­por­tant, if the other unions in the Pa­cific wish, to get their med­i­cal per­son­nel trained and I’d be more than happy to go and to be in­volved in that.”

- World Rugby

Photo: FRU

From left; Dr Emosi Taloga and physio Jen­nifer Kha­lik at Churchill Park, Lau­toka, last year.

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