Neki Patel first NZ rep on International Sports Chiropractic Federation

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Posted 29 February, 2024
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Neki at work

Renowned Queenstown sports chiropractor Neki Patel is now one of just nine chiropractors worldwide to sit on the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS) executive board and heads to a three-day board meeting in Portugal this July.

Patel, who’s been chiropractor to legendary All Blacks, top professional golfers, and Ice Blacks stars during the past 25 years, has been appointed as New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands’ representative on the prestigious governing body.

FICS is charged with leading the direction of sports chiropractic worldwide, how sports chiropractors work internationally and how the profession works with the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

“Things change in the world so it’s good that we can come together as a profession, bringing that wealth of experience from chiropractors who’ve looked after top sportspeople to ensure we can all be world leaders,” Patel says.

For example, various countries have different requirements. FICS is based out of Switzerland and there it’s Swiss law for chiropractors to have been trained as GPs beforehand, he says.

“I’ve worked with some big sporting organisations in rugby and I’m still working with the PGA on the NZ and Australian Open, so I have lots of experience,” Patel says. “I started running concussion tests with the Stampede 15 years ago before they came into vogue, so I’ve had experience with many different sportspeople and love working with different professionals for better outcomes.”

He says he’s hopefully bringing “practicality and common sense and some Kiwi No.8 wire lateral thinking” to the board table.

FICS is all about ensuring equal access to sports chiropractic specialists regardless of whether teams are elite or not and he’s excited to have some of his Queenstown staff working with Cook Islands Football this year. Cole Mackie is travelling with the NZ Ice Hockey U18s when they compete in Istanbul. He’s worked with the Stampede for the last two seasons at national level and local men’s football and will now work with the Cook Islands under 19 Football team in Vanuatu.

Madison Hooper who looks after the local women’s football and ice hockey teams, will work with the Cook Islands U15 an U16 women’s teams in Fiji and Auckland, while former Queenstown Health chiropractor Natalie Blake will look after the New Zealand Ice Blacks in Bulgaria.

Patel himself will be looking after the Cook Island’s U16 boys’ team in Tahiti. Ex-President of FICS and educator Pete Garbutt, based in Canberra, will look after the men’s first team with the first outing in Tonga in March.

“We operate a multi-disciplinary and integrated model at my clinic which connects patients with their best outcomes so I’m also keen to share that at FICS as it works well.” Chaz Monahan, owner of OC gyms, will put together a programme and videos for Cook Island players to help with good technique to help reduce injury and educate. “We have some very smart people in all aspects of health in our area.”

Patel first began assisting with football locally when former NZ international and professional footballer Ricki Herbert established his Football Academy in Queenstown and he’s looked after the local men’s and women’s teams for the last 15 years. “This Cook Islands connection has all come from Jess Ibrom, National Men’s Head Coach and National Academy Director for the Cook Islands Football Association. It’s a work in progress and we’re hoping to share the medical experience gained from the Academy and our collective experience with the Cook Islanders,” Patel says.

He will once again lead the health team at the NZ Open at Millbrook from February 29 until March 3.

He says there has been a shift in focus in health in recent years with people not wanting to take pharmaceuticals, opting instead for massage, nutrition, chiropractic, physiotherapy, and acupuncture.

“Queenstown’s an incredibly active society. We work hard and play hard. We produce sportspeople at high levels here and in Wanaka,” he says. “We’ve dominated ice hockey and have an amazing athletic, healthy society, elderly people skiing, tramping, biking. People want to avoid long-term pharmaceuticals, look after their bodies, and be educated on how to keep those machines working well,” Patel says. “We must keep the machine running well while trying not to let the marbles leave the jar as we age and that’s all about prevention and maintenance of ourselves.”


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