Cesar Meylan

Cesar Meylan

Director of Health and Athletic Performance, Canada Soccer, Vancouver, Canada
Doctor of Philosophy

What he loves most about his job is contributing to the success of a team, says sport and recreation alumnus Dr Cesar Meylan who is now the director of health and athletic performance for Canada Soccer, based in Vancouver.

“Our men’s national team qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 after winning the CONCACAF region qualification. This was only the second time in the country’s history that the men’s team was going to a world cup. We’ve established a strong programme that is looking to compete well in the Gold Cup and hopefully in the Copa America in 2024.

“Our women’s team won gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. I was so happy to see this group of players win gold after a double bronze in over 10 years of continuous work. They’re now getting ready to compete in the FIFA World Cup 2023 in New Zealand and Australia. I’m also supervising postgraduate students from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, with a strong interest in player profiling around acceleration and match performance.”

Having joined Canada Soccer in 2012, Cesar has had a number of memorable moments throughout his career.

“The proudest moments in my career so far were seeing our women’s team step onto the podium during the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, as well as the men’s team winning its first round of World Cup qualification. To see players reach their dream, and looking around and feeling a deep connection with the staff around me is what has made me the most proud in my career.”

A progressive university environment
Human performance is a field that has always fascinated him, says Cesar who grew up in Switzerland and completed master’s degrees at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and Edith Cowan University in Australia before coming to AUT for his PhD.

“I grew up playing sport every day, in particular football, and was always amazed by the performances of athletes, whether it was a world cup or the Olympics. When I realised that I wasn’t going to make it into the sporting elite myself, I focused my attention on understanding how to help others achieve their dreams and compete at the highest level. To have the knowledge, character and experience to support champions is what has driven me into this field and continues to motivate me.”

The integration of research and high performance sport is one of the things that impressed Cesar most about his time at AUT.

“I came to AUT in 2009 and noticed that AUT was very progressive in the way it approached the integration of research into high performance sport. The Millennium Institute was just being upgraded and I was excited to be part of such a great movement.

“For nearly four years, I lived and breathed strength and conditioning every day, and it was such a good place to be and grow. I haven’t come across such a rich environment since. The calibre of the people going into the building was amazing. I was excited to go and work there every day, and I formed friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Making a difference to youth athletes
For his doctoral research, Cesar focused on better understanding strength and power development during growth.

“I’ve always loved working with youth because they’re the future, they’re enthusiastic, and they make me happy and laugh. I wanted to be able to contribute to this field of research, so that we can globally provide better support for young athletes, and enhance their experience in sport and their chances to succeed.

“My PhD research provided tools for coaches to approach youth training with more evidence-based practice. It has contributed to a growing movement that hopefully will see more athletes succeed, enjoy sport and stay healthy.”

Cesar’s research was supervised by Professor John Cronin from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation, with Dr Jon Oliver and Mike Hughes from Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales as his secondary supervisors.