A post graduate qualification from AUT has enabled medical doctor Ameya Kagali to realise his dream of working with athletes through serving as chief medical officer to the highly successful Indian Paralympics team.
Now back from the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, where the team won nineteen medals, Dr Kagali is one India’s few sport physicians, something he hopes to change in the future.
“I was always an outdoor person and although we play a lot of sport in India, we hesitate to pursue anything sport related as a profession. Due to an interest in the medical field from an early age (both my parents being medical doctors) I studied medicine. However, I never let go of my interest in sport. We hardly have any doctors working full time with athletes, so I thought why not tread this path and see how things pan out?”
After seeing the strong sporting cultures of Australia and New Zealand, Dr Kagali explored study options in both countries. AUT stood out for its diverse student body, and excellent sport and research facilities. After arriving in New Zealand last year to study a two-year Master of Sport and Exercise, he switched to a Postgraduate Diploma due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
"The highlight of being at AUT was doing the course at one of the most challenging times the world has witnessed in the recent past. The warmth and unprecedented support from every faculty member, without compromising professionalism, was the biggest takeaway for me.”
He began applying for jobs before leaving New Zealand and landed a role back in Bangalore at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), a training ground for the national men and women’s hockey teams and Paralympians. India was struck by the Delta variant of Covid, and he became the only doctor on campus, supporting athletes through that second wave of the pandemic. His work was recognised when he was appointed chief team physician for India’s Paralympics team, monitoring and caring for the athletes before and during the Tokyo competition.
Among other thing the role included pre-participation physical screening, strict maintenance of Covid protocols, working with the Tokyo Olympics Covid Liaison Officer and Chef de Mission on health-related matters, and coordinating with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Dr Kagali would like to continue his work with Paralympians aiming to become a professional classifier with the IPC (International Paralympics Committee) by 2024. As one of India’s few practicing sports physicians, he sees many opportunities for expansion and wants to spread awareness in his country of the importance of sport as a profession. He would also like to teach, perhaps working with a medical college and collaborate with AUT in future.