Career Reflections: Doctor Navin Prasad

Doc Prasad retires from National Team after 30-year Career

Dr. Navin Prasad went on his first-ever Field Hockey Canada tour in 1992 to Cuba for the Junior Pan American Championships. Since that moment, he’s been a staple, representing Canada as Team Doctor at international competitions at all levels for all teams. 

Last year, he retired from his post as Team Doctor, after an incredible, dedicated 30-year career with Field Hockey Canada’s national teams. 

‘Doc’ Prasad first got involved with Field Hockey through his mentor, and FHC Hall of Fame inductee, Jack Taunton. Prasad, an Edmonton native, was experienced with ice hockey but didn’t have much knowledge of field hockey. Even leading up to his first assignment, he thought he was going to tour with the ice hockey junior team. He rolled with the mix-up and much to the benefit of the Canadian field hockey community, Prasad returned for more tours. 

That first trip to Cuba coincided with first tours for a whole cohort of future Canadian superstars, Rob Short, Kenny Pereira and Mike Mahood to name a few. According to Prasad, the connection and friendships with the athletes is a large reason why he continued to do the job for so many years. He suggests that there’s something special about the field hockey community that made him feel welcome and included, right from day one.  

“Although I have treated other international and professional athletes and traveled with a few professional teams, there is something special about what field hockey has brought to my life,” Prasad said. “First, I think all the players, coaches, and support staff have treated me with nothing but love and respect. I have had so much trust and faith from the players about my medical decisions and they have always worked extremely hard to come back from any injury.  From my first moment with the team, they welcomed me like I was one of the family.” 

Prasad has worked with both junior and senior athletes, but the bulk of his work was with the senior Men’s National Team. He reflects fondly on his career, saying it is impossible to single-out any specific moment as his favourite. His list of international tours, accolades and appearances are too numerous to name. 

Prasad (middle row, left) representing at the 2000 Sidney Olympics. Photos/Yan Huckendubler

He highlights his first World Cup in the Netherlands in 1998, the Winnipeg 1999 home Pan Ams, the Gold Medal winning 2007 Pan American Games, and the recent 2019 qualifiers followed by the 2020 Olympic Games as major milestone moments. Prasad was named the Canadian delegation’s Chief Medical Officer for the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.  

Prasad said he felt immense inclusion and acceptance during his time as Team Doctor. That welcoming and supportive energy was returned ten-fold said Balraj Panesar, Men’s National Team member. Panesar, who played the first eight years of his career with ‘Doc’ on the bench, said they appreciated Prasad’s ability as a doctor and as a person. 

“Doc was absolutely incredible at his job, always going above and beyond what we could offer him, but the guys will always remember him for who he is as a person. We loved having Doc on tour. We knew we would be in great hands should any injury or illness happen,” Panesar said. “Doc always was always smiling, cracking jokes and keeping the mood as light as possible. He loved getting in on the games during tours. We loved listening to all the incredible and funny stories that Doc had to tell from his three decades with the team. We can’t thank Doc enough for his service to our program and we will miss Doc’s presence and personality on tour.” 

Doc Prasad (back row, right) fondly remember his many Pan American tours. Photos/Yan Huckendubler

Looking forward, Prasad said he would recommend any aspiring sports doctor to get involved touring with amateur sports in Canada. For him, the experience created lifelong memories and relationships. His message to the next generation of touring medial representation is simple, but profound. 

“Be professional at all times with their medical problems but spend some time getting to know each of them as individuals and talk to them about their families and school and work. It is OK to joke when the time is right and be serious when it comes to competition and results,” he said. “Be available at all times because problems don’t only happen on the pitch. Keep up to date on the most current research and treatment plans for injuries and other prevention of illnesses (especially for international travel). Finally, have fun doing your job, because your passion and good nature will be something players will always recognize early.” 

Prasad said he has formed lifelong bonds with athletes, coaches and members of staff throughout his 30-year career. For him, the people and the memories make the experiences so special. 

“In 30 years, I have worked with many different support staff. I know I couldn’t have accomplished anything in my career without the most amazing coaches, and assistant coaches, therapists, managers, nutritionists, sport psychologists and many others who allowed me to do my job to the best capacity and I want to thank all of them. Too many memories to list but almost all of them were wonderful.” 

On behalf of Field Hockey Canada’s board of directors, staff and athletes, CEO Susan Ahrens expressed her thanks to Dr. Prasad: “Thank you, Navin ‘Doc’ Prasad for everything you’ve contributed to Field Hockey Canada. We are thankful for you and your service to this community. We will look forward to welcoming you along as our guest to future home games.”  

Thank you Doc!  

Doc’s last major trip with the Men’s National Team was the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photos/Yan Huckendubler

Field Hockey Canada

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