Halifax Wanderers New Look Integrated Support Team

It’s been a busy off-season in the Halifax Wanderers football department. In addition to appointing a new assistant coach and unveiling three new signings so far, extensive work has gone into re-designing an Integrated Support Team (IST) including strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, medical, nutrition, mental performance coaching and performance analysis.

“Coming out of the 2021 season, we identified the need to improve some of the ways we support the squad off the pitch,” explains Sporting Director Matt Fegan. “Whether it’s mental or physical preparation, rehabilitation or some simple tweaks to travel logistics, we are always looking at ways to improve. It’s our job to provide the players and the coaching staff with the best possible environment to thrive on the pitch.” 

This Wanderers Wednesday, we highlight the team behind the team.

Each member of the Wanderers Integrated Support Team.
Each member of the Wanderers Integrated Support Team.

Since the debut season in 2019, the Wanderers have worked with Canadian Sports Centre Atlantic (CSCA) where players complete weekly gym sessions led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Travis Dorsey. Heading into the 2022 season, the club has secured more of Travis’ time allowing him to attend all daily training sessions while working closely with players returning from injury.

The Wanderers have also recruited Soccer Specific Fitness expert Richard Bucciarelli as a consultant to work alongside Travis. Richard will implement some cutting edge techniques in athlete conditioning. Based in Toronto, Richard is currently completing his PhD in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences with a specialty in biomechanics of speed and acceleration training in soccer players, at the University of Guelph.

“I’ve wanted to work in the CPL since the league first started in 2019 and I’ve had the privilege to work with Toronto FC, Ottawa Fury and the Canadian Men’s National team program in the past,” shares Bucciarelli. “This league is something that’s very important for Canadian players because of the opportunities it provides.”

“Stephen Hart is a good friend and colleague of mine and we’ve worked together before. Things didn’t work out originally because of the pandemic and all that but I love Halifax, I’ve been following the club and the Wanderers are on the verge of something special this year and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

Key to the coordination of the IST is Dan Clark, who has been the club’s High Performance & Team Manager since 2020. A qualified Sports Scientist, Dan operates as a bridge between the coaching staff and IST to ensure a consistent approach to training periodisation, integrating GPS technology for load management as well as contributing to team performance and opposition analysis. 

On the medical side, one of the original members of the Wanderers staff is Lead Physiotherapist Danielle McNally. Danielle is an invaluable leader in the IST, operating as the primary day-to-day coordinator of player injury management in liaison with the club’s Lead Physician Dr Robert Green as well as massage therapy and chiropractic care. Danielle contributes across several aspects of the team including travelling to all away games and coordinates the squad’s compliance with anti-doping protocols through the Canadian Centre of Ethics in Sport (CCES). 

Danielle McNally and Dan Clark at the 2020 Island Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (Canadian Premier League)
Danielle McNally and Dan Clark at the 2020 Island Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (Canadian Premier League)

Also extending her involvement with the team is Dietitian Melissa Allen who returns for her second season with the Wanderers. Melissa will continue to work closely with players on their nutritional education as well as ensuring all meals, home and away, meet the highest standards for players and staff to prepare for their games. 

The Wanderers are pleased to welcome Mental Performance Coach Danielle Poulos, also a member of the broader CSCA staff. With the rigours of a busy season filled with ups and downs, the club recognized the need to support the players with more focus on mental performance where Danielle will work on a one-to-one basis with individual players along with group sessions. 

“We’re delighted with the work done to bring together this level of expertise to our club,” explains Fegan. “Looking back on last season, we were 15 points off the pace from the top spot in the league which is our target heading into 2022. We’ve simplified our approach by working on 15 ways to enhance our group with recruitment, mental and physical strengthening or the basics of better preparation for a gruelling travel schedule. We’re confident this improved IST will provide the support our players and coaches need to contribute to more points on the pitch this season.”