Women’s Day Blog Aug 2022: Karabo Abuki

What did you study?

I studied BSc (Hon) Sport Science.

Why did you choose to study this?

My father passed away when I was in grade 11. As a result my end of the year marks were not good enough to afford me the opportunity to obtain a bursary (or so I thought at the time). I had actually wanted to study law or political science but gave up on that dream. Throughout my matric I did not apply to any university as I thought I would not be accepted or if I did I did not want to put any more financial pressure on my mother.  My mother later convinced me to take up any short course of my choosing until we found an alternative solution- that’s when I enrolled at eta for a diploma in coaching science…thus beginning my journey to sport science.

Which teams and student-athletes/athletes are you currently working with?

I am currently working with Anika Pretorius, Zanele Situ and Maties Football.

What’s the best part about your job?

I am happiest when I am in the gym or on the soccer field.

What’s the toughest part about your job?

I am very competitive and get very invested in our athletes’ journey. The toughest part of my job is to see a talented player who has worked very hard on and off the field not succeed or dropping out of the program.

You were both interns at the Maties Sport High Performance Unit straight after graduating with your Honours degrees.  How did the internship prepare you for the work you are doing now?

I did my internship over a period of 2 years (thank you Covid). Year one was very overwhelming- imagine having to quickly realise that what you were taught in theory does not always apply in practice while having to adapt to the high standard with which the HP Units holds itself …during Covid! That year, was a year of reflection, relationships and courage. Year two was an opportunity to get the full experience of what it means to be a strength and condition coach – the early hours and late evening sessions, always having a plan A- E, being flexible and most importantly dependable. Working with student athletes adds such a special dynamic to our job.

As female strength and conditioning coaches in a historically male dominated industry, do you have any advice for any young woman who would like to follow this career path?

My biggest advice to other females wanting to pursue a career path in strength and conditioning is to just grab it by the horns. As former Ms Universe Zozibini Tunzi once said: “Teach young girls to take up space and cement themselves”. That said,more than anything, be patient and always expect to be asked if you are the team physiotherapist or bio – with grace and pride, own your space and be unapologetic about what you love and have worked hard for.