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Sports Physiotherapy New Zealand

Sports Physiotherapy as a Special Interest Group in New Zealand has a long and varied history. It began in 1978 and now exists as the largest subgroup within Physiotherapy New Zealand.

TAGS: sports physiotherapy, sports physical therapy, NZSOPA, Sports Physiotherapy New Zealand

In 1978 Peter Stokes headed a Wellington group of physiotherapists who realised the need for sports-specific physiotherapy skills. They arranged their first weekend course in 1979 attended by 33 participants.

This group applied for formal recognition as a SIG by the Society (NZSP) in 1980 and this was granted at the Society’s AGM in 1981. After a couple of years running out of Wellington the administration of the group moved to Christchurch. Unfortunately this was not a successful move with the group eventually folding and all monies raised donated to the Society’s Scholarship Trust Fund.

Following an advertisement placed in the Society’s 1995 March Newsletter, a second group began operating in April 1996 with formal notification and eventual acceptance at the 1996 Society’s AGM to form a Sports and Orthopaedic Special Interest Group.

At this time preliminary meetings were held in Auckland and Christchurch to discuss the administrative details and to establish a foundation membership list.

With an initial membership list of 80 in October 1996, educational meetings were held in Auckland every 8 weeks and occasionally in Christchurch and Palmerston North

In 1997 the group held its inaugural AGM and the first executive committee was established, led by Graeme Nuttridge. It is interesting to note that it was voted on at this meeting to restrict membership only to physiotherapists.

At the Society’s 1997 AGM the Sports and Orthopaedic group was now officially recognised as the “New Zealand Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Association” (NZSOPA)

At the 2000 NZSOPA AGM Tony Schneiders was elected president.  At this time, key issues regarding education, ethics, contracts and standards were identified and a frame work to develop these was established.

Also in 2000, NZSOPA’s first educational course was held in Christchurch with 45 members in attendance.

At the time hardcopy newsletters were distributed to members at a sporadic rate but in 2003 NZSOPA developed an electronic version and since its inception the “Bulletin”, as it became known, has been regularly distributed to members bi-monthly.

We established ties with Australian Physiotherapy Association and NZSOPA members began receiving regular hard copies of the SPA Sports Physio magazine.

NZSOPA also established a relationship with JOSPT (The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy) resulting in NZSOPA becoming an official partner of JOSPT and the JOSPT journal becoming the official journal of NZSOPA.

Sponsorship allowed us to create a contestable education and research fund for members and we began offering student research awards at both the Auckland and Otago schools of Physiotherapy.

Throughout the early 2000’s regular educational workshops, seminars and courses were developed and presented culminating in 2010 where the group had finally matured to the level where we ran what was to become the first of our ongoing bi annual multidisciplinary symposiums.

Shortly after the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) recognised the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT) as a sub group (2003) NZSOPA was accepted as a full member and today has executive member Tony Schneiders represented on the IFSPT Board

After canvassing members throughout 2010/11 NZSOPA underwent changes resulting in a new name, new logo, new website and bulletin. NZSOPA became “Sports Physiotherapy New Zealand” (SPNZ). With these new changes the principles of maximum benefit to members remained.

In 2011 we also opened the door for undergraduate physiotherapy student SPNZ membership and sideline safety and strapping workshops were run for students at AUT University.

After 12 years at the helm SPNZ President Tony Schneiders handed over the reins to Angela Cadogan at the SPNZ AGM held in Tauranga in conjunction with our Symposium titled “Prevention, Practice, Performance.”

Following many years of planning and preparation the finishing touches are being applied to structured Level 1 and Level 2 Sports Physiotherapy modules. Continued input from leading external professionals bodes well for both an exciting and valuable CPD process.

SPNZ is also working on the development of a Sport Physiotherapy Code of Conduct. PNZ is co-sponsoring the project and we look forward to presenting this to our membership for discussion during 2013.

From our opening membership of 80 we can proudly state that our membership has grown ten-fold with membership as of December 2012 at over 800.

The past has been exciting, but we look forward to an even more exhilarating future with the support of the membership, PNZ and the many volunteers that tie our group together.

March 2013






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