“Make the comeback bigger than the setback."
This piece of wisdom carried Maties Hockey player Sandisiwe Tabata through her seven-month rehabilitation journey after being injured during last year's Varsity Sports Hockey tournament.
Some eight months later she made her international debut for the South African women's hockey team in a test match on her home astro at Coetzenburg against Germany.
“It was honestly just a collision of legs and seven months of hockey and big opportunities gone after that..." said Tabata about the injury she sustained against Wits.
“I had a partial PCL tear, bruised meniscus and an impact fracture on my right knee."
What made the injury even worse, was the timing of it. She had just been selected for the SA Women's team and her dream of playing for her country had to be put on hold until the start of 2020.
Tabata spend long hours at the biokinetics centre with her physiotherapist and biokineticist during her rehab process.
“Rehab was tough but never 'too hard'. In my mind, I was willing to do and take on anything as long as it would assist in my recovery in the best way possible. I removed any pressures to get back early so that I could focus on the process. The honesty of the medical team around me helped me to push myself, set goals and do it in my own time.
“The environment and atmosphere in the biokinetics centre truly played a huge role in my recovery. Knowing that my leg was getting stronger kept me very motivated."
Tabata added that the Maties Sport High Performance Unit played a vital role in her comeback.
“They were really there for me and helped me wherever they could. The HP unit allowed me access to all the resources I needed to help with the rehab process. The sessions the unit organised on the Cybex machine at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) were a game changer."
A first international cap was within reach when Tabata was injured in May last year. No wonder her smile was so big when she finally earned that first cap in January of this year.
“I took quite a dramatic and devastating detour to get to this moment. However, my friend Zintle Tunce always reminded me that a dream delayed is not a dream denied. So, as I stood beside my teammates, singing Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica, 11-year-old Sandisiwe's dream was realised."