He has been the team physiotherapist for various national and international sports teams, worked closely with a number of top Bollywood stars and, until recently, was the official physio for arguably the most famous Indian Premier League cricket team, The Kolkata Knight Riders. Now Andrew Leipus has put his roots down in Ballito.
A strong believer that nobody should have to live with pain, Andrew says that when he sees a patient, he tries to understand the person behind the injury and heal them in a way that is conducive to their lifestyle.
Having spent most of his career working with professional sportsmen, Andrew’s newly opened Ballito practice, Move Sports Physio and Rehab, is predominantly (but not exclusively) aimed at the active community.
Born in Adelaide, the 49-year-old father of two recently settled down in Ballito after many years of living abroad. He, his wife Colleen (who grew up in Salt Rock) and their two young sons now live in Zimbali and Andrew says he couldn’t be happier.
After graduating as a physiotherapist in Australia, Andrew spent two years working in London, where he met a South African woman who he then followed back to SA. He spent the next few years working in Johannesburg at the Centre for Sports Medicine, where he worked with provincial and national cricket and rugby teams. While there, at the age of just 29 years old, Andrew was offered the job of team physio for the Indian cricket team.
“It was a big decision to pick up my life and move to India, but it was an amazing opportunity. Becoming an international sports team’s physiotherapist is a pinnacle moment in any physio’s career.”
It was anything but easy in India, says Andrew, as modern training techniques and medicine were still very much developing. “I loved that environment though. Physio’s are there to help people and I really thrive on helping sports people be the best they can. Ours is very much a ‘back room’ job. We don’t do it for the glory or recognition – seeing the players get better and fitter and have less injuries is so rewarding.”
After five tough years in India, Andrew moved back to Australia to ‘up skill’ himself by doing a masters degree in musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy. He then returned to Bombay to open his own sports science facility.
During this time Andrew was consulting with a number of local celebrities, Bollywood actors and cricketers, and was offered the unique opportunity of being the medical director on The Biggest Loser – a weight-loss reality TV programme. “It was an exciting new challenge and I went for it! My job was to make sure the contestants lost weight safely and that no one got injured.”
After his six-month contract ended, Andrew went back to Australia and opened a physiotherapy practice, but things changed in 2008 when the Indian Premier League was born. “I was thrust back into the cricket world and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, asked me to be his team physio.”
Andrew met Colleen (who was doing marketing and events for Cricket SA) in 2008 and the couple got married in 2012. “We lived in Australia for a while and would come to South Africa on holiday regularly. One holiday we decided, on a whim, to buy an investment property in Zimbali.”
Soon working between India and South Africa became too stressful and Andrew made the decision to open a practice here. “The quality of life is just so amazing her. And it’s much more affordable. I also think I’m just ready to settle down now and become part of a community.”
With a number of elite athletes in the area, Andrew believes there is a market for a highly experienced sports physiotherapist who can treat not only musculoskeletal but also chronic pain (which he says sportsmen also suffer from). His practice is situated at The Circle (where the old Lockeroom Gym used to be) and features an indoor heated hydro pool and a number of treatment rooms.
Referring to himself as a ‘weekend warrior’, Andrew is an avid mountain biker and trail runner and says he loves the lifestyle that the North Coast has to offer. “It’s like living in paradise here. We have so much beauty right on our doorstep.”
Details: Move Sports Physio & Rehab, The Circle, Ballito, 082 484 3839, [email protected]
Text: Leah Shone