In this episode, Nigerian Sports Physiotherapy Association Founding Member, Ummukulthoum Bakare, talks about her important research and advocacy of sports physiotherapy.

Today, Ummukulthoum talks about her research on women’s football, the issue of compliance and adherence, and the next steps in her research. What are the challenges for women football players, and how are they mitigated?

Hear about her experience advocating for sports physiotherapy, her presentation on The Unbreakable Young World Athlete, and get her advice to her younger self, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.


Key Takeaways

  • “Passion will drive you.”
  • “The increase in projections of the numbers of registered football players has skyrocketed by the participation of women in football.”
  • “Coaches need to understand that they can be empowered to take charge.”
  • “You don’t have to think of injury prevention as this thing that is separate. It needs to be integrated.”
  • “Nothing is impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it.”
  • “The sky isn’t the limit anymore.”


More about Ummukulthoum Bakare

headshot of Ummukulthoum Bakare (PT) wearing a yellow shirt Ummukulthoum Bakare is a Doctorate Candidate in Sports Physical Therapy at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Her research is focused on women’s football and injury prevention.

She is a founding member of the Nigerian Sports Physiotherapy Association and is active in disseminating the FIFA11+ injury prevention programme in her native country and across Africa. Her passion has centred around the sports of football, basketball, and para-athletes and injury prevention. She received her Bachelor of Physical Therapy and her Master of Physical Therapy from the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Ummukulthoum has worked as a physical therapist since 2001 and has won several awards for her service locally, regionally, and internationally. She is a member of the Medical and Scientific Commission of the Nigeria Olympic Committee and an Associate Editor for the British Journal of Sports Medicine.


Suggested Keywords

Healthy, Wealthy, Smart, Healthcare, Physiotherapy, Sports, Research, Injury Prevention, Women’s Football, Empowerment, Advocacy,


Third World Congress of Sports Physical Therapy


To learn more, follow Ummukulthoum at:


Twitter:            @koolboulevard

Instagram:       @koolboulevard


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Read the Full Transcript Here:


Welcome to the healthy, wealthy and smart podcast. Each week we interview the best and brightest in physical therapy, wellness and entrepreneurship. We give you cutting edge information you need to live your best life healthy, wealthy and smart. The information in this podcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as personalized medical advice. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Karen Litzy.



Hey everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I am your host Karen Litzy. And in today’s episode, I’m really honored to welcome UMO cooltone Bukhari she has a doctorate candidate in Sports Physical Therapy at the University of Witwatersrand in African South Africa. Her research is focused on women’s football and injury prevention. She is a founding member of the Nigerian sports physiotherapy Association, and is active in disseminating the FIFA 11 Plus injury prevention program in her native country and across Africa. Her passion has centered around the sports of football, basketball and para athletes and injury prevention. She received her Bachelor of physical therapy and her Master of physical therapy from the College of Medicine University of Ibadan in Nigeria UMO kooltherm has worked as a physical therapist since 2001, and has won several awards for her service locally, regionally and internationally. She is a member of the medical and scientific commission of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, and an associate editor for the British Journal of Sports Medicine. So in this episode, we give you all a sneak peek of what she is going to be speaking on as one of the guest speakers at the fourth World Congress of Sports Physical Therapy, which is taking place August 26, to the 22nd 2022 and Nyborg Denmark. If you want more information on the WC SPT conference, head over to podcast at healthy wealthy Click on the link in the show notes under this episode. If you can, I highly suggest signing up and joining us in August in Denmark. So Lumo coutume is just one of many speakers that we’re going to be highlighting over the next couple of months. We have a great conversation today about the unbreakable Young World athlete which she will be speaking about Nyberg. So everyone enjoyed today’s episode and be on the lookout for more speakers coming up in the next couple of months. Hey, Katie, welcome to the podcast. I’m really happy to have you on.



It’s lovely to be here, Karen. Thanks for having me. Yes. And like I said in the intro, gosh, you are a real rock star in the physiotherapy world. So you are a founding member of the Nigerian sports physiotherapy Association. You are a member of the medical and scientific commission of the Nigerian Olympic Committee and an assistant editor for the British Journal of Sports Medicine. And so that leads me to my first question is How important do you feel these associations are for the profession?



Thank you, Karen. It’s is really very important, especially from my side of the



of the continent where we have very limited resources. And it’s always a good opportunity to connect with other colleagues from around the world. When we first started the the Nigerian sports physiotherapy Association, were just a handful of people who, you know, came together to say, look, if we did start an association like this, it would help us be able to connect with other colleagues and associated other associations from around the world. And then we connected with IFSP T, which also given us a lot of opportunity to connect with the rest of the sports PT world globally. And that has kind of enriched us over the years. And I’m happy to say that Nigeria was also the first African country to be affiliated with IFSP T. And we still have a great relationship till today. And I’m also actually, I think, the first African and the IFSP T board. The executive board. I was elected in 2019 in the last Congress in Canada, for the Nigeria Olympic Committee. That took a lot of work because it’s actually by appointment. And over time, it had only just been physicians. There hasn’t been any room for physios to get on board, but I think for somehow I just kept well with the National Society. I’d be the Nigel site of physiotherapy, I just kept pushing to get on visit



ability for physios get us to get, I mean, get the Olympic Committee to also organize specialized training for physios and all of that, and I was doing all this work, making sure that where they were conferences happening, I wanted them to, you know, support people to attend and all that, and a former vice president of the Olympic Committee, and as I look, I think you’ll bring your loved one on board. And I’d like to nominate you to be on the on the medical commission. And I was like, Okay. And



when I got in, I was the only female and I was the only physio. But I am glad that we time a lot of things have changed. Because one of the key things I’m passionate about is to give room to allow upcoming and early career sports medicine stakeholders, be it physio psychologists, you know, doctors, physicians, but give room for the younger ones to be supported and, you know, have access to all the IOC courses and things like that. So I it’s been, it’s not been an easy journey, but I think you can change a lot more from the inside than the outside. And that’s, that’s why I took on the assignment. And so far, so good. It’s, it’s worked out. Yeah, it’s slow. But it has worked out a bit. Yeah, amazing. And I was going to my next question was going to be what, what has it been like for you to kind of be the first to have a seat at the table? Right, the first woman which I’m not surprised, and the first physio to kind of have that seat at the table, what has that been like for you? And what lessons have you learned?



Um, to be honest, it was not a really easy thing to do, especially when you are in the middle of about, you know, 12 other people who, and you probably also are the youngest. Let me add that, even though I don’t consider myself young, per se, but in that tool,



I was the youngest. So but I think luckily, I What sort of helped me was that I spoke with the chairman. And I told him Look, this is



this is the ideas that I have. And I feel like I know there’s a lot of work that needs to go on behind the scenes, I’m happy to do all the heavy lifting, or writing and all that, but we need to push for more things to achieve our mandate. And he was very happy with that. And later, a lot of a lot of the other board members just felt like Okay, it looks like we have somebody who’s willing to do all this heavy lifting with you know, writing proposals and stuff. And we just kind of make things work. And somehow they just realized that I wasn’t really doing it for any self. For myself, as it were, I was trying to get us to have a better a wider ecosystem for sports medicine resource, be it physios, doctors, you know psychologists, pharmacists, nutritionists and stuff like that. And so far, so good. We’ve we have quite a sizable number of young, early career people coming on board, a lot more people are not interested in sports, physio and all that. And which is because before now, nobody really wanted to do sports physio, they felt like,



you know, you’re, you’re never going to be rich. Like you’re always just



the government is always owing you money. And so why are you a physio per se but then I tell them that look, passion will drive you it is just a calling and you really need to understand that.



What can in any another prefer in any other specialty or physio? It’s quite rewarding as a sports physio as well, if you if you’re driven by the right



circumstances. So yeah, it’s not going to be easy, because half the time you’ll find yourself like a fish out of water, especially being a female



where you’re working multisport settings and you have to work with male team and all of that you have to hold your own. But it’s it is rewarding. And yeah, so yeah. And it sounds to me like some of my students. Yeah, some big lessons. There are one, being willing to put in the work and to opening the door so you can help bring other people in. It’s not opening the door for yourself and closing it on everyone behind you. No, no, because there definitely has to be a transitional plan. What is the sustainability of whatever you’re doing? Because at the end of the day, your time is going to come and go. So who are the people that you’re empowered to continue that journey, the vision and to be able to achieve



you know, the end goal of making sure that there is that continuity, and that you have, you know, so they pay forward and they can



didn’t pay forward until, you know, for as long as as needed. And we would have a big pool of sports physios because I can tell you that Nigeria is over 200 million people, and maybe about 10 million active Lee involved in sports at a competitive level. And we still don’t have enough physios to cater for that number.



So there’s still a lot of work to be done. I can’t do it alone. It’s a collective team effort. Yeah, I mean, you have to increase the capacity. Exactly. Right. So that that all of these 10 million people, which is a huge number of people cannot be seen by estimating. It could be more, right. Definitely. Yeah. So obviously, you don’t have the capacity for all of that. So if you can open that door and bring in a lot of like enthusiastic, like you said, physios, physicians, psychologists, nutritionists to help you continue to build up the capacity of a sports medicine program across the country, you’ll be able to reach more people. Exactly. And that’s what it’s all about. And now, let’s talk about your research. So you’ve got this passion of building up the capacity for sports medicine in Nigeria, let’s talk about your research, which I know you’re also passionate about. So I’ll hand it over to you.



Okay, so I’m currently working in women’s football. I mean, it is what it is because women really don’t get much attention for anything, even in football, and for research specifically, as well. But as we all know that the



increase in projections of the numbers of registered football players has skyrocketed by the participation of women in football. And we know that for women’s for women, we are more or less we have certain



certain factors, that puts us at higher risk of injuries. We know football has burden of you know, contact injuries and all that but can reduce the injury rates of non contact injuries. Now, because women I hire, that when population were what areas due to biomechanical factors, biological factors as a result of hormones and stuff, biological become biomechanical because of, you know, pelvic hip ratio, you know, being at higher risk of ACLs. So you want to be able to minimize that risk. And how to do that is to actively engage in injury prevention. So trying to bridge the gaps, especially in a low resource setting where we don’t really have much human resources, infrastructure and all of that, and people still want to play football. So my research is trying to bridge the gap with the population of women playing football, and the use of an evidence based, comprehensive warmup program, which is the FIFA 11. Plus, it is a basic injury prevention program, but it works. But it’s not going to work if people don’t know about it and compliant with using it. So it’s trying to find out what are the challenges in the setting? And how can we mitigate these challenges to be able to improve compliance and adherence, and be able to achieve injury prevention goals, because even on a global scale, compliance, and adherence is a big issue with anything. So, um, since we also know that we have to always tailor things to the broader ecological context, or whatever we’re doing. It’s not one size fits all, because you have to figure out what are the things that can work in this setting? How can we adapt that can we adjust certain things and whose responsibility is going to take the leadership of the injury prevention philosophy, how this behavioral change is gonna affecting? So this is this is a research that I was working on, or I’m concluding at the moment. And I’m really excited because now I think FIFA also is doing trying to do a lot of stuff for women’s football. So hopefully, that can help. You know, in the next five years, we’ll see women’s football going to a different level than we are right now. Yeah. And you know, as you’re talking about that and talking about the resources or lack thereof, it really makes me think I’m in New York City. I’m in the United States where we have an abundance of resources, and people still don’t comply with injury prevention programs, right. And so I can’t imagine being in



In a part of the world where you don’t have the the manpower, the end all of the things that we have here, yeah, yeah, in order to make these programs stick.



Exactly. So this is one of the things that I found out is, along the course of my research, is that coaches need to understand that they can be empowered to take charge, rather than coach to see me as a medical person, like trying to take over their job, I’m not trying to take over your job, I’m only trying to help the team so that he can have more players available for selection and team can do better because at the end of the day, it’s inversely proportional, the less injuries in the team, the more the team, you know, can can can progress and be successful. So at the end of the day, I think the messaging also matters, the messaging about, Okay, Coach, if you do this, you’re going to have more players available for selection. And when you do have more players available for selection, then your team has a better potential to fight for the title to get to win a trophy. And when that happens, you get a bonus or something in your pocket. And it all everybody sort of it’s a win win situation when your players do or injury free. They have longer carrier carrier longevity and so many other things. So the reason begins to change, you know, begins to change and at the end of the day. And then another thing I say to them that look, you don’t have to think of injury prevention as this thing that is separate. It needs to be integrated. And there is no flexibility to adapt



and just integrate, it will still work. The most important thing is that you are committing at least twice a week for these exercises to be done. And you will see the difference that it brings to your team. Yeah, it’s all about incentives. Right? How can you how can you meet the people where they’re at with the incentives they need? And like you said, it’s all about the messaging? Yes. Okay, wait, mindset changes, right. And that kind of takes us into I think what you’re going to be speaking about at the fourth World Congress is sports physiotherapy, which takes place August 26 and 27th of this year in Nyborg, Denmark, and that is the unbreakable Young World athlete. So talk to us a little bit about that, and a little bit about your presentation. We don’t give it all away, of course, you know, we want people to come and see you live, so we’re not giving it all away.



We can dangle some highlights out there.



Okay, so the first thing is, I think that right now, everybody knows the potential of sports. So



everybody wants to start young. Now the pressure there on the young athlete is to begin to perform at a professional level at a young age. And that impacts a lot of things in terms of because you know, the type of dedication that you need to, to perfect, whatever sport that you’re doing. And, you know, many parents and guidance, everybody wants, oh, I want my child to be Cristiano Ronaldo, I want my child to be messy. Now the pressure is much on these kids. And one of the biggest challenges that then these the burden of having to deal with that kind of pressure, whether physically, psychologically, and every other thing that makes up these young athletes would really be a huge load for young athletes out there. How can we balance that? Now, I will be talking from the perspective of law resource where I’m coming from a lot of many people.



In the developed countries, they have a lot of support for young athletes. And be it nutrition wise psychology, and so many other things that you we don’t have the luxury of that. And many times, the kids who just want to play like they don’t want to do anything serious or anything like that. But there’s still the pressure and demand on them to excel. Because people see that if you if you’re a good sports person, or you’re able to make a break in either football or basketball, which is one of the top spots in Nigeria, then we can change our economic situation. And that helps us out of poverty, and all this kind of and all this type of thing. So I’m just going to be talking from that perspective of low resource and how the young athletes



as much as you want to encourage sports participation, but there has to be that striking balance to enable them to succeed



That’s a lot of pressure on a young kid.



Yes, yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I know I’m definitely looking forward to that talk in Nyborg. Is there anything else that you’re working on projects moving forward? Anything you’re looking forward to in the future, whether it’s future research, speaking gigs, getting more involved in in the profession as a whole? What do you have coming up?



Okay, so I’m trying, I’m rounding up my doctorate right now. So hopefully, I can get a postdoc position as well to continue to work in women’s football.



That is what I’m hoping for the next maybe six months there about, but other projects that I’m passionate about involves power athletes, I’m very, very passionate about walking with our athletes, because also they too, were like a minority



group. But I see that they are really the super humans, you know, with everything. And with the limited resources and everything you can think of the still strive very hard I want to get on on the world stage. They are the ones who put Nigeria on the on the on the map for medals, because I was with the team in 2016, in Rio, and



we won eight gold medals, set new eight world records.



So I feel like yeah, there’s a lot more that I want to learn. And



I’m also trying to do some technical courses. And



there’s something called classification for power athletes, where it’s like, you’re trying to make sure that all the athletes are classed,



in in the desired classes that they can compete on a level playing ground. So apart from the technical officials, they also need the medical people to come and do all the assessments of you know, movement, muscle power, and all these things, just to be sure that, okay, we have classes athletes properly, and they can compete without having undue advantage over the other colleagues in a similar category. So yeah, so I think that’s really the next thing that I want to do. It sounds amazing.



Some of my students trying to move on to postgrads. I’ve just provide them some of my own shares, some run experience, support them along the way as well. And so that’s, that’s what I think I’ll do. Amazing. Well, it sounds like you have a busy time coming up and doing really, really great work. So congratulations on all of that. And now where can people find you? If they want to reach out to you? They have questions. They have thoughts, where can they find you?



Okay, so you couldn’t find me on social media? You’ll see on Twitter, it’s at cool Boulevard.



And it’s also the same handle on Instagram at cool Boulevard. So and that’s cool with a K, correct? Yes. K with the K Yeah, yeah. And we’ll have all of that information and links directly to all of your social media in the show notes for this podcast, so people won’t have to search too far. And now as we wrap things up, one last question that I asked everyone, it’s knowing where you are now in your life and career, what advice would you give to your younger self?



Um, nothing is impossible. If you dream it, you can do it. So just surround surround yourself with people who will always find your flames. People will always ginger you to keep going. And I think, you know, the sky isn’t the limit anymore.



You can keep going so that I’ll give to my younger self. Excellent advice. And just if people want to see Katie speak in person, like I said a little bit earlier, she will be speaking at the fourth World Congress is sports, physical therapy, August 26, to the 27th of this year, 2022 and Nyborg, Denmark. So again, we’ll have a link for that as well. So you can go on and take a look at the whole program and sign up and come to Denmark in the summer, which I’m assuming is going to be great. I’ve never I’ve only been there in February when it’s pretty chilly and snowy and rainy. So I’m excited for I’m excited to go. And I’m excited to listen. I have never been to Denmark. This will be my first time. So yes, I am looking forward to meeting you. And the rest of the delegates from around the world. Yeah, it’s gonna be great. So Katie, thank you so much for taking the time out and coming on today and talking about all the great work you’re doing. We are all inspired. So thank you so much. Thank you for having me.



and looking forward to see you soon. Yeah and everyone thanks so much for listening. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy and smart.



Thank you for listening and please subscribe to the podcast at podcast dot healthy, wealthy And don’t forget to follow us on social media

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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.
©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.