SESNZ 2018 – Calls for Collaboration and Connectivity with an increase in Quality

Today marks a week since returning from the surprisingly sunny south of the South Island of New Zealand, after what was a fantastic conference down in the ‘Edinburgh of the South’…otherwise known as Dunedin, Otago. IMG_0600


Otago University were fantastic hosts for the conference, which this year branched out in a big way, building on the success of Cambridge last year… you’d expect the oldest university in the country to know a thing or two about hosting a conference!

There were two key differences from last year’s conference, at an organisational and a programme level:

Programme wise, the conference followed a very different structure with the (re)introduction of parallel streams, allowing attendees to get stuck into specialist topics for three to four 15-min bitesize talks, and regrouping for keynotes and refreshments. This change in structure was supported by a phenomenal line up of key-notes for what is in effect a relatively small conference, to my knowledge there was not a key-note speaker on the bill who hadn’t published >150 papers. This is the Quality, noted in the title of this blog post.

At an organisational level, it was fantastic to witness the signing of MOU’s between SESNZ, BASES, ACSM and ESSA (hence Connectivity). This is important not just for the act of aligning Sport and Exercise Science in New Zealand with other global bodies, but for a change, the documentation seemed like it would lead to action. Having come through the BASES supervised experience route myself, I think that SESNZ would do well to adopt a similar model, but the fit needs to be right for the quality and quantity of sports scientists we are trying to produce in New Zealand. It was great to hear Kathryn Schmitz, chair of ACSM, speak so passionately about the work being done globally with regards to cancer treatment and exercise, but highlighting the achievements of New Zealand practitioners in making advances in the field.

I’d like to also highlight a consistent call to arms that was heard throughout the conference, especially in thermoregulation sessions, we need to collaborate more as New Zealand sport and exercise science practitioners. We are simply too small a nation to not do this. Good science is all about sharing ideas and experiences and working together to falsify and test them. I got the opportunity to chat quite extensively with practitioners and students from all over NZ and beyond, and I look forward to keeping in touch – I’m sure my science will improve as a result.

Finally, in closing, I would like to showcase the work of some of my colleagues in the images below; Frans van der Merwe is our S&C lead, and is about to embark upon a PhD in change of direction related movements in youth athletes, and Kerin McDonald is a very enthusiastic and thorough researcher and facilitator whom I’m slowly convincing to come to the dark side of environmental ergonomic strategies…but presented some of his work on ultimate frisbee and cycling at the conference.



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