Marika Azzopardi

T here is no doubt that Jordan Camilleri is an athletic person. Even before discovering that he is a seasoned waterpolo player, his physique gives away his sport. This 22 year old medical student shares some of his experiences relating to sport and medicine in this short and candid interview. Jordan’s switch to waterpolo came as a natural progression. “We live just a few steps away from a waterpolo pitch in St Julian’s and such a close proximity meant I was tempted to jump right in. But other factors contributed to this decision, namely that my older brother Stevie Camilleri is a professional waterpolo player and that, apart from all this, my father is a family doctor and also the Neptunes’ waterpolo team doctor.”

As a semi-professional waterpolo player, Jordan’s training schedule can be pretty hectic. “I train throughout the entire year, with some three hours of training put in daily. We then get a roughly three-month summer period when, apart from training, we take part in the national championship. Besides playing with Neptunes, I am also on the National Waterpolo Team and have this year, already travelled twice with the team.” In fact, the National Waterpolo Team, including Jordan, travelled to Limerick in Ireland for the 8-Nations Cup and won a gold medal in March. The team proceeded to land a silver medal in April during the Commonwealth Games held in Aberdeen, Scotland.

“The winter league serves mostly as a training preparation for the summer league which stretches from end May through to September. We play over 20 games every season, including games for the winning of domestic cups. For me, waterpolo is similar to a part-time occupation since I get paid for my playing which neatly adds on to my student’s stipend. But in reality, waterpolo is so intrinsically inter-linked with my life, that I cannot for a minute, imagine living without the sport.”

This sport does not stop him from his studies. If anything, he insists that physical exercise helps him unload his stress levels and concentrate better. “Many people think they should give everything up and just focus on study once they enter university. I am totally against this frame of mind. Free time is limited of course, and I am in a relationship which also needs time dedicated to it. But whilst many people think they would never manage to cope with a sport or any other hobby, they eventually regret having dropped things along the way. For myself, training serves as a valuable break during exams for instance, and I return to the books with better focus. I am by nature, a person who gets quickly irritated when stuck doing the same thing over and over, so the sport diversifies my energies. Then again, being part of a team teaches you a lot.”

In several ways, he is used to being part of a team even at home, since he has grown up with three other siblings. “We get on very well together, myself, my brother and my two sisters, one older and one younger than myself. I am the third child. All my family backs my studies, especially my father since he has been through it himself. He makes sure all is in place to enable me to study and he supports me also by answering my million questions and sharing his knowledge with me. Yes, my studies in medicine have proved to be a great connection for us – I am very close to my father.”

Asked about his experience at university so far, Jordan speaks about there being too much focus on books and not enough, in his opinion, on the clinical aspect of the training. “I understand it is difficult for a consultant to take along an unlimited number of students in tow for the ward rounds, but students crave for such experiences. For myself, I can say that this year’s experiences in psychiatry, geriatrics and family medicine were invaluable and I especially learnt a great deal from my community attachment where I was assigned to a general practitioner at a health centre. The experience of being Neptunes WPSC team (Jordan is 4th from bottom right) on a one-to-one basis with a practising doctor helped me learn a great deal.”

‘It-tifel tat-tabib’ he may well be, but Jordan has in actual fact been strongly inspired by his father to take up medicine. It has helped that he was always brilliant at science topics in school. But living in a doctor’s family has led him to appreciate the works behind the practice and it definitely has not put him off. “I have come to appreciate the profession. Although at this stage, I still don’t know which aspect of medicine to delve into, I am just concentrating on graduating for now.”

‘It-tifel tat-tabib’ he may well be, but Jordan has in actual fact been strongly inspired by his father to take up medicine

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