Betway Insider: At Home With West Ham's Head of Medical Services Richard Collinge
In the latest entry in the Betway Insider At Home With series, West Ham United’s Head of Medical Services Richard Collinge discusses how he is continuing to do his job effectively from home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak...
How are you continuing to do your job despite working from home?
We've set the players remote programmes so they can work from home. We monitor their compliance through an app so we can see, in particular, what kind of running they've been doing. We’re not only aware of the physical element but of the psychological element. They've had their training stimulus taken away from them, so we offer psychological support as well. We’ve also been ensuring that the players maintain a balanced and healthy diet, have access to any information they need, and have regular contact with my staff and the Player Care team to ensure they and their families remain safe and well.
What sort of work are you doing given we don’t know when the season will return?
Obviously, we are conscious that we’re not totally sure yet when we’re due back in, so the plan is pretty fluid in terms of keeping the players topped up and fit. In the meantime, I need to make sure my communication with the manager and the Board is clear and concise.
We've got two injured players at the minute – one with a shoulder issue, one with an ankle problem – so I’ve been making sure we can carry on their rehabilitation remotely. Obviously, the hands-on element of my role, in terms of the physiotherapy side and the sports science side, is tricky.
How are you keeping in contact with the players and staff?
We’re using FaceTime calls or video conference calls to make sure they're doing those exercises properly.
How are you using this time to hone your own skills?
There’s a whole host of online learning that can be done – I'm starting an MBA and trying to develop my managerial skills in my role. I've been a physiotherapist for over 20 years now, so I want to make sure that not only have I got the optimal clinical skills but also the managerial skills to back that up. I've got good rapport with the manager, his coaching staff, the Board and the owners as well – but I also have the trust and confidence of the players. I'm using this as an opportunity to become a more well-rounded individual and professional and that can only serve me well for the future.
What’s the thing you miss most about football?
Matchday. We are an entertainment industry ultimately, so you prepare all week for showtime come Saturday afternoon. I miss being in the stadium, I miss being part of the backroom staff who help to prepare the players and put them centre-stage. The colour, the vibrancy of the stadium and all the razmatazz that goes with the Premier League nowadays – that's what I miss the most.
How are you passing the time without any football or other sport to watch?
I think if you work in football, you love football. Therefore, when it's not on TV you really do miss it. There are studies that I'm filling my time with that keep me psychologically switched on. I'll try to run or cycle every day, which I was doing before, but certainly with a bit of good weather now it's enabling me to get out, blow away a few cobwebs and try and keep fit. The interaction between the mind and the body is important as well, making sure that one supports the other and vice versa. It's a good opportunity to keep yourself fit, freshen up psychologically, ready for the return of the football, whenever that may be.
Are there any TV show, films or books you’d recommend?
I would recommend two books by Matthew Syed. The main one I really rate is one called Black Box Thinking, and he's also got another book called Bounce. I've learned a lot from those books. They are two inspirational books that could help anybody, whether you come from a healthcare background or you just want to learn and develop skills to get better at whatever you do.
Have you discovered any new interests or hobbies?
My main interest now is the managerial side of my role – I was on a conference call yesterday with my tutor about my MBA and leadership development. That's probably been my biggest stimulus of this period, in terms of how I'm going to make it worthwhile for what comes in the future. So, yeah, the managerial acumen is what I'm looking forward to developing over the next few weeks.
Have there been any positives that have come from this unprecedented situation?
I think you freshen up mentally. The football season is long, it’s hard, it’s arduous. We were playing well, we were just hitting a good spell of form and we were through the worst of the injuries hopefully. Now, you've just got to take a step back and bring the players back in at a level that's appropriate for the last nine games of the season. We're on calls two or three times a week with the Premier League medical officer, trying to find good strategies to make sure that when we do go back into Premier League football that it's as safe an environment as possible. This has been a huge learning curve for everybody, but also in how we try and maintain a football team at the same time from a medical perspective. It's brought fresh challenges and you have to learn from that.
Have you learned anything about yourself?
I've learned how much I miss football! It’s really made me understand how pivotal sport, and certainly football, is to my life.
Finally, what has the break made you realise you love most about football?
When you work in sport and you compete in sport, as we do, then you've got to be 100 per cent committed to it. That has been taken away from us in the short-term, and it’s helped me realise how much I enjoy sport and the competitive arena. That's ultimately what drives me on as a member of the backroom team – you want to win and you want to be a part of it.