The Upside Newsletter
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⭐Upside Team Profile: FC St Pauli (3. Bundesliga) & Chat with Saba Shakalio, Head Athletic Trainer
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⭐Upside Team Profile: FC St Pauli (3. Bundesliga) & Chat with Saba Shakalio, Head Athletic Trainer

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Dear Colleagues,

As part of our continued effort to promote female practitioners and teams, this week we are profiling and interviewing FC St Pauli, a German professional football club based in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, that competes in the 3. Bundesliga.

Sports team: FC St. Pauli (Female team)

League: 3. Bundesliga.

Headquartered: Hamburg (Germany)

Founded: 1910

Website: FC St Pauli

Sports team background: Fußball-Club St Pauli von 1910 e.V., commonly known as simply FC St Pauli, is a German female professional football club based in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, that competes in the 3. Bundesliga.

The football department is part of a larger sports club that also has departments in rugby (FC St. Pauli Rugby), baseball, bowling, boxing (FC St. Pauli Boxen), chess, cycling, handball, roller derby (Harbor Girls Hamburg), skittles, softball, and table tennis and since 2011 Marathon. Until the end of 2013, the club also had a department in American football, but it was dissolved because it lacked the youth team required in order to hold a men's team. FC St. Pauli has 27,000 members as of November 2018.

The men's professional football team dropped down to the Regionalliga in 2003, at that time the third highest football division in Germany and remained there for four years. In 2007, they won promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga and in 2010, they were promoted to the Bundesliga, the highest division. After relegation, since the 2011–12 season they have played in 2. Bundesliga, the second-highest division in Germany.

FC St Pauli has a cross-city rivalry with Hamburger SV; the matches between the two are known as the Hamburger Stadtderby or simply Derby. The club also has a more recent rivalry with Hansa Rostock.

Although the footballers have enjoyed only modest success on the field, the club is widely recognized for its distinctive social culture and has a large popular following as one of the country's "Kult" clubs, which has now developed beyond Germany. FC St. Pauli supporters are strongly identified with their support of left-wing politics.

FC St Pauli’s favorite technologies used:

  1. Fitness app vendor: My Jump app

  2. Biosensor vendor: OvulaRing

As part of that, we interviewed Saba Shakalio, the Head Athletic Trainer at FC St Pauli.

📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on her background and her role at FC St Pauli. We also touched on the importance of technologies, her favorite technologies, as well as her approach towards innovation and injury reduction.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Saba:

  • On her background and role at FC St Pauli:

    • “I work as a sports physical therapist, but also as a strength and conditioning trainer at FC St Pauli Football Club in Germany, but at FC St Pauli, I also work as a sports scientist and I do some research about gender specific performance characteristics in sport”.

  • On what FC St Pauli’s core values are such as the respects for women and human rights, the refugees and LGBTQ community in Germany:

    • “The club is famous for their values. They stand for values such as the respect of women rights and humans’ rights. They also have programs to welcome refugees in Germany and they have programs to support the rights of the LGBTQ community in Germany”.

  • On her approach towards innovation and injury prevention:

    • “We did one experimental study about menstrual cycles. As part of that we used a medical biosensor called the OvulaRing where we tracked the menstrual cycles of water polo players in Hamburg for one year”.

    • “And it was a great experience for me as a strengths and Conditioning and training coach to see the impact of high load, the training phase on females’ physiology. And now I'm trying to implement this technology with my football players”.

  • On how they use OvulaRing and how it benefits the athletes:

    • “As a trainer to see if the players are at a risk of over training or if they're at a risk of injuries, is important. So there are really different physiological measures, but the menstrual cycle is also a very sensitive parameter to measure when female players are at risk”.

    • “One of the first sign of over training is menstrual dysfunction (..) Then if that’s the case I would discuss with the athletes our training and recovery plan. And some players are at a risk of injury and over training”.

  • On how the OvulaRing Works and is used by women athletes:

    • “The OvulaRing is a unique and really easy method to track the menstrual cycle because it has a really high validity like the blood tests but also it is not that much costly compared to a blood test and it is not that time consuming”.

    • “And the good thing is that the players can do it by themselves. I mean it's a sensor. They wear it vaginally and it measures data 288 times per day. And the data that we have can also be used at a diagnostic level to recognize menstrual dysfunctions”.

  • On how she helped one of her athletes who experienced a menstrual dysfunction and how she changed her training and recovery program:

    • “We had a water polo player last year who was injured a couple of times, and she also had a history of eating disorder, which is unfortunately very common in some sports”.

    • “We realized that she didn't have any ovulations for the past four five months. And she was also really stressed. She was under lots of stress at work, at the university, and she was not handling it in a right way, and as a result of that her performance was always decreasing”.

    • “So we first had a talk with her trainer and we tried to send her to a professional sport medical staff for more examinations. So this example is one of the early signs of over training and diseases like female athlete triad”.

    • “And it is actually a practical internal load measure in women, which men do not have . These kind of over training symptoms are usually recognized very late in women. So here we can then change our training programs and recovery programs much earlier than men”.

  • On her favorite technologies:

    • I already talked about the OvulaRing. I also use regularly a mobile app called My Jump to measure the jump strengths of my athletes. It helps me to know at which level my players are, if we need to do more strength training or if some players are at risk of injuries because we can also compare the right leg with the left leg”.

    • “The My Jump app measures the time of fly, and how many seconds the players are in the air. That’s one of my favorite apps that I use regularly”.

  • On the product she would build if she had unlimited resources:

    • “I think we need a application which tracks the menstrual cycle very accurately, which is what the OvulaRing does, but it would need to be combined with the trainings apps”.

    • “Today we do not have this option where you can also track the menstrual cycle of their players. It would be great to have an application or a training portal, which I can use as a trainer to write the training of one session with this app, and also be able to see at the exact time in which the phase of menstrual cycles my players are”.

    • “If my players have a performance fluctuation during a particular month if I can also see if my players have a better performance or they feel better, that would be great. Today these apps cannot show their highest performance in one phase. And also that would allow me to adopt my training to the menstrual cycle easily. That would be a great app for female athletes. That's definitely something that is missing on a market”.

    • “As a trainer you have 100 apps on your cell phone, and every app has only one function. And I think that something we definitely need are multi-functional apps. For example there are already trainings app that I can write down the training for my app. I can also see on other apps the players’ blood pressure, but these are apps that operate in silo today”.

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