Interview with Paul McCarthy

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Lucy from Bailrigg fm interviewed Paul McCarthy, the new VP Sports.

How have you been finding lockdown? What have you been up to?

So, I actually only left my house in Lancaster on Monday, which we were very depressed about. We had to all give our keys back, it was very dramatic. Before the job started, I’ve not really had any work to do. So, we’ve just been sitting down playing X-box. I’m trying to read a bit.

What does you role as VP Sports entail?

Obviously, with regards to the reorganisation of Roses, I’ll be the figure point from the union aspect of being in communication with all different sports reps, all different sports execs, trying to sort out their priorities and make sure sports are moving in the right direction. A big thing for me will be lobbying the rest of the board into making sports a priority. 

What made you want to run for the role? 

In uni I’ve just always done a lot of college sports. So, I did bar sports, football, but I also do cricket for the uni, and I was a Lonsdale sports rep as well. I love sport here; it’s been a massive part of my uni life. 

What are your main aims going into this next academic year?

I’d say my number one priority now is, we missed out chance at hosting Roses last year so let’s get it next year. I’d like to here as many student voices as possible to push the union into doing it.

In my manifesto, there was a lot about mental health within sports teams. What rugby do is they have welfare meetings once a week where they literally just sit down and have a chat about their mental health. I think if you get every uni sports team, and hopefully college teams as well, and you get one member of their team elected on the exec as a wellbeing officer, I think that would be a really good initiative to improve communication and atmosphere within sports teams. 

There’s so little communication between the union and the college sports reps. There’s pretty much nothing between college sports reps and uni sports execs. In freshers week, when I was Lonsdale sports rep, I had so many students coming up to me saying ‘I want to try out this sport, how can I do it?’ I’d direct them to the Freshers Fair officer on Facebook, but I didn’t know the people I was directing them to. So, if you start getting that communication up, you can get more people doing sports. 

I want more transparency in the SU. The SU could be more approachable and clearer about how democracy works. 

What do you think the university sporting activities will look like throughout the next academic year when students hopefully begin to return to campus?

I want as much sport going on a possible. I think it’s fundamental to students physical and mental health that there are options for activities. Hopefully, we’re back on campus. It’s so reactive to what the government does. 

How are you going to work with York and persuade York to let us have the home Roses?

It’s just fair that we have Roses in Lancaster. So, I’ll definitely push for that. We put all the plans in place for this year. Those plans haven’t suddenly gone away. We shouldn’t waste that, which hopefully they’d agree with. I think home Roses is something we’ll get, hopefully. 

What do you think the main issues are regarding mental health and sports at the university and in general? And how do you plan to improve these issues at Lancaster university?

In general, it’s just awareness of mental health and to get rid of a stigma, and to actually encourage people to get out and talk to each other. Within sports teams, I think it gives you an environment where people from all sorts of backgrounds suddenly get really close to each other. And I think a sports team performs better when the team gets on better. Mental health at uni, in general, is a huge issue. We hear stories of people having to wait so long to see counselling. 

How much of a priority is this now that Covid-19 and lockdown have happened and are still happening? Do they come under that as well or do you see that as a separate thing?

I think it’s accentuated it because there have been much more feelings of isolation and loneliness, which probably would make this even more important to, once we can, get these officers elected. Particularly, they’re going to struggle to physically train, get these meetings going and you’ve got the atmosphere of the sports team going again. 

In March, LUSU decided to remove the active Lancaster recreational sports programme, which would see funding cuts to college C and recreation leagues. Do you think these leagues are still in danger and will you fight to keep them, and if so how?

I had a brief season playing for Lonsdale D team, so I hated this decision. It’s definitely something I would like to see reversed. They stopped the sports review because they couldn’t continue it and they lost the funding for that role. So, it wasn’t a decision taken to spite people. It’s the most signed petition we ever had, even more, signed than Sugar. So, I’d just absolutely lobby and try and get this reversed to make sure we fit the student demand.

What is the role of college sports reps and uni sports execs? What do they do for people who might not be aware? 

The exec is that team of leaders within each team. With college sports reps, it varies from college to college, but they are in charge of organising say, the Carter Shield. There’s a few a term of events on the weekend where every college comes together and does a different sports competition. I was in charge of organising founders. So, each college does their own different version of that. 

I just think currently there’s no feeder system or communication system between college sports and uni. Say women’s football, for instance, there’s a massive appetite for women’s football. I definitely think we could get some sort of college league going. I think there’s only one team. So, if you don’t make it on that team, you’re going to probably struggle to play at all. I just think if you get a line of communication going between those figures, then it will just make things run so much more efficiently.

In the recent bye-election, there was a lot of talk of the disqualification of the RON candidate. How do you feel about this?

I don’t think we communicated as effectively as maybe we could have done. It wasn’t LUSU who disqualified RON, it was an external officer. They decided too many rules had been broken by the RON campaign. I would be really interested to see the voting figures. Oliver has been great so far to be fair to him. 

What do you miss most about university life since lockdown began?

It’s Sugar! I just love it. It’s just that Wednesday night where I’ve probably been with my footy team, I’ve done a social. I miss friends. I miss the karaoke.

Do you have any other places that you’ll really want to go or things that you’ll really want to do when you get back?

I miss the bar sports. I want to play pool again. I just miss uni life. And I miss the buzz you get when around the university.

Finally, sultans or ketcap?

That’s not really even a question, is it? I’m sorry Ketcap, but it’s sultans all the way.

Thank you so much for talking to us!

Thanks for having me. 

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