Liz Ashworth: Reflection of the past year

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So summer is finally here! Which means extravs, exams, sun and the dole. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. There’ve been highs and lows and a hell of a lot of lovely people. I do think many could say that they become friends with the people (student in my case) who they work with. I’m leaving my last article with a review of things that have been and hopefully, things that you can keep the ball rolling on when I’m gone.

The Activities Awards are coming up and I’m excited! I can’t speak highly enough of the Societies for all that they have achieved this year. Society and club of the year is to be voted on by all activity groups in this year’s activities council. Short listing for the new awards; commitment to collaboration, best campaign and best new group to name a few, has been difficult. Never have we seen so many groups achieving such high quality events and I hope that in the future we will have the time and resources to encourage this with sports groups, for example holding more tournaments.

Some of the best events I have seen at lancaster have taken place this year. I’ve never attended a Dwali celebration and this was an incredible collaboration between the Indian society, dance society and other cultural groups. The Bake off event from the baking society opened up the opportunities the club provide to the rest of the university which was fantastic. The regional Ballroom Dancing competition hitting ITV with Lancaster’s society holding the event at Blackpool tour was an outstanding achievement and one that we have nominated them for an NUS accolade.

With dedicated staff time and LUSU equipment being used to I ensure that these events are top notch, the delivery of sport at Lancaster is somewhat dragging. I have worked on this all year withy he activities staff, changing the attitudes towards sport at Lancaster is taking long than I had planned.

Meeting with our 37 BUCS sports groups for an audit process, we were able to access the current level of sport development at Lancaster. Thirty of the groups wanted an external coach and didn’t have one, with 26 unhappy with the number of hours they have thee coach for (typically due to financial reasons) meaning that only 4 groups we satisfied with the level of coaching they were achieving.

Now a top ten university, Lancaster scored 5th in the county but we finished 51st in BUCS last year and the sports teams gave the sporting development and the facilities at Lancaster an average of 5.91/10. This isn’t good enough. Now paying £9000 fees, we should be far more satisfied and achieving higher in the BUCS ranking.

Much of the grievance is due to the lack of access to facilities, with 73% of groups wanting more time to train. Currently, 32% of the training hours in the sports hall fall in the day before 6pm, often clashing with lectures. For years, this frustration has been channeled to LUSU or the sports centre. Unfortunately, under the current targets that have been put on the sports centre, we can’t have more time or all the time after lecture hours. The building is given targets and deadlines, much likeany other cut throat business. This is an attitude that we are working towards together to change.

More space, is that the sole answer? No, probably not. More money needs to be funnelled into sport. We have suggested an intern position who could work with groups towards development, facilitating events such as tournaments, friendlies and contacting national governing bodies. With greater funding, we could dedicate more money to each group to go towards coaching. Many groups have coaches irregularly and can not afford a higher standard coach. Trainers at the sports centre to work with teams on strength and conditioning sessions to develop key muscle groups, relevant to different sports.

The sports centre and activities department met this week to start from scratch with the timetable for training session. From here we are going to work together to push for rot to be more of a top priority at Lancaster. No, it isn’t a degree scheme here but we take it seriously in our teams, representing the University week in and week out, it’s time that the University recognised this.

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