London FA spoke with Ally Maloney about her journey to becoming a physiotherapist working in grassroots and semi-professional football.
My name is Ally Maloney and I’m a physiotherapist working in both grassroots and semi-professional football with SE Dons and Barking FC. I started a new role last summer providing London FA with medical support during their cup finals. I also work full-time in the NHS as a specialist physiotherapist.
I’ve been working as a physiotherapist for about 12 years. I came into this career as when I was 14 or 15 years old my grandfather visited his family in St Lucia and, unfortunately during this trip he suffered a stroke. I remember being amazed when he walked off the airplane. A short discussion later revealed the work the physiotherapists had done in helping my grandfather regain his independence. After a lot of searching in my school’s careers library, I realised I’d found my job: a perfect blend of helping people, sports and limitless potential. It was love at first sight!
I’m incredibly proud of my profession. The impact of the pandemic has shown the true depth and importance of healthcare. It’s difficult to pinpoint the one aspect I’m most proud of but if I had to choose I’d say it was being able to help others achieve their goals. Whether that’s a 21 year-old footballer with an ACL repair regain her confidence to run or helping an 64 year-old gentleman to be able to sit up to eat his meal for the first time in 6 months after being very unwell with COVID-19. It can be incredibly rewarding to positively impact someone’s life like that.
Inclusivity is strongly at the heart of what physiotherapists do. Sometimes this takes the form of learning Gujarati phrases to help a patient participate in rehabilitation. Sometimes it’s mentoring someone to help them into the profession. I’m of mixed heritage: my mother’s family are St Lucian and my father’s family are Irish and English. I appreciate that sometimes we need to have a bit of help finding our feet and finding role models from within our communities. I still remember being one of the only women working in non-league football when I first started. Hopefully, I’ve been at the forefront of helping women to be viewed differently in men’s football. I’d like to think I’ve also been a role model to those younger therapists following me to see what’s achievable, regardless of their backgrounds or society’s expectations of their potential. Through my work as a mentor and student facilitator, I’ve been able to help firsthand with ensuring that everyone has better opportunities to be involved with this work.
What does the future hold for me? Well it’s always difficult to say what can happen. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue branching out into education and podcasting, expanding this into a new arena of passing on practical skills and knowledge to less-experienced physiotherapists (and coaches!). At the same I plan to continue working in non-league to provide them the support and encouragement I very much needed back in the day!