In our women’s team, we are very lucky to have a lead Sports Scientist, Ivi Casagrande, who as well as us, balances projects with FIFA, the Brazil National Team, and more recently, the Irish National Team.
“I had to look around the stadium in the warm-up thinking, ‘oh my god, this is everything I dreamed of.’”
Speaking with Ivi, she has to take a moment before realising exactly what she achieved this summer, representing her nation on the biggest stage.
“It was very cool for me as a Brazilian, to be able to be with my country and go to the pinnacle of women’s football, I am still processing it!
“I haven’t actually put it in my head that I was there! But it was a very good learning experience, to be with my country on the world stage.” said Ivi beaming with pride.
“Also, to see how women’s football is growing and how we can keep pushing the boundaries.
“It was the game against France, played in Brisbane, there was this full stadium of Brazilians! Of course, I dreamed of playing for the national team, but that dream evolved into something better, in helping players get to where they want to be, it’s just a very surreal thing for me.”
Of course, with that kind of experience, we are very lucky to have her.
Ivi joined the club around two years ago on a consultancy basis, and brings with her expertise, mentorship, and helping us strategise the health of our players.
“Because I am a consultant and have different projects that I juggle, one of the biggest things for me as a professional, is to have projects that are very close to my heart.
“They have to be very purpose-driven, and when I knew about Lewes, and the values, I was very inspired and wanted to be part of it.
“The biggest thing for me as a professional is to try and help women’s football and get them to a point where they can raise their standards.
“It’s a project that I am very passionate about and I think being able to do small things that can get them to that next level, that’s the key.”
One of the other things Ivi is involved in, is research projects with FIFA. Through that, she has been able to bring new ways to educate our players at Lewes.
“I do a lot of work with FIFA, developing projects worldwide. We have a female-health project which we released during the World Cup, and the FIFA Convention.
“It’s an amazing project, where we support coaches,players and stakeholders worldwide to train women as women. I think there are so many different areas we need to educate our players in, the basic stuff like nutrition, menstrual cycle, pelvic floor.
“I do a lot of work with FIFA, developing projects worldwide. We have a female-health project which we released during the World Cup, at the FIFA Convention.
“So, Emma Brockwell, a friend of mine who also works as a technical advisor for FIFA , she is a pelvic floor specialist, and she’s coming to us in November to give a talk on pelvic health.
Then I came across Orreco, through Dr Georgie Bruinvels, who I know from eight years ago starting as a coach, and I was using their FitrWoman app to help my players track their menstrual cycle.
“It’s for them to understand that there’s specific phases of the month that you, as an individual, have specific things that you might need to be checking and looking out for.”
So, how will FitrWoman and this research, help us at Lewes?
“Orreco have basically developed this amazing platform, called FitrCoach, that we’re going to start using from early January, as part of the research project that they are doing with us.
“The research is on inflammation markers, omega 3 status, menstrual cycles, so you can see the relationship on those variables. We’re working with Niamh Mallon, a Sports Scientist at Orreco, and she’s been our nutritionist support.
“She’s been unbelievable in helping us push the standards of nutrition, so we’re able to potentially get a partnership with a nutrition supplement company, but also just to be able to give them a nutrition fuel room.
“From January, we are going to be able to help them track their menstrual cycles with the help of FitrWoman, and really help them with their nutrition status across the different phases of this. Then on top of that, spread the knowledge of this research because there’s so much out there, and not a lot is pertinent for women’s football.
“So, to be able to bring that to Lewes, with Orreco and FitrWoman, and test our players, how we can help them as well as push this research worldwide, it’s such a special thing.”
It is especially important with the amount of young players at Lewes, that Ivi believes is crucial for them to understand.
“We have such a young group, and there’s a lot of things that they won’t be aware is normal or abnormal, so we need to be able to educate them.
“We talk about pelvic floor, not a lot of people understand the importance of it. Menstrual cycle, same thing.
“Post-game, pre-game, they might not know what’s normal and what’s not. So we need to give them the expertise to say if you eat better in this stage, and know exactly what to eat in this specific stage of your cycle, it can help you perform at the next level.”