HAVING worked as a civil servant for about 30 years, Larne man Joe Crawford decided it was time to for a change in his career path.
His real passion has always been sport - especially football - having played at a semi-professional level for most of his life and coached a number of local teams such as Wellington Rec, Tech Old Boys and Larne Youth.
But over the years in his position as a centre half, Joe picked up his share of injuries and was forced to undergo five knee operations. It was during his rehabilitation that the 50-year-old began thinking about taking the leap and going into business for himself as a sports therapist.
“I have always wanted to incorporate my love of sport into my work, and I realised that helping people recover from injuries would be an ideal way to achieve that,” he told the Times.
Joe, a former pupil of Greenland Secondary School and Larne Tech, undertook a three-year diploma through the Society of Sports Therapists.
“It was tough trying to re-educate a stagnant brain, as it had been a long time since I had done anything like this. The course was very in-depth but I really enjoyed it and was determined to succeed,” he added.
After completing his studies, Joe signed up for the Go For It programme, a free scheme funded by Invest NI and delivered locally by LEDCOM, which aimed to help local entrepreneurs get their fledgling businesses off the ground.
“I had very little experience when it came to running a business, and the Go For It scheme was a tremendous help. It showed me what to expect and taught me a lot about the financial and marketing aspect,” he said.
Joe now runs a fully qualified and professional service called The Sports Clinic, which he operates out of his home at The Beeches.
He caters for all ages and has assisted people involved in a wide variety of sports and activities, including football, rugby, golf, running and even Irish dancing.
Joe offers techniques such as ultrasound therapy to repair soft tissue damage, electrotherapy treatment to help relieve pain, and body massages.
“People come to me for an assessment and I determine what their injury is and whether or not I can treat them. The kind of injuries I deal with include back pain or damage to tendons or ligaments, but I cannot treat fractures or broken bones.
“The majority of injuries that I see are the result of people not warming up before exercise, and so I make my patients aware that a few minutes of stretches can make all the difference.
“But it is not just sporting injuries that I deal with. I recently treated a man in his 60s who had hurt his foot while walking down stairs.
“Regardless of what the injury is or how it happened, I don’t let my patients go until they are 100 per cent fit.”
Joe told the Times that he has absolutely no regrets about his decision to go into business for himself.
“Sport is just such a big part of my life and I am delighted that I am now making a career out of it. I love what I do and get a real thrill out of helping people get back on their feet. I just wish I had gone down this road sooner,” he concluded.
n For more information about The Sports Clinic or to arrange an assessment, contact Joe on 07861763701 or email firstname.lastname@example.org