SU Elections 2021: VP Sport Candidates

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There are three candidates running for the position of VP Sport this year:

  • Holly Foster
  • Paul McCarthy
  • Ivo Mladenov (contacted for the interview but did not respond)

David Evans, Head of Sport for Bailrigg FM interviewed Holly and Paul to discuss what sports would look like next year, how they plan to engage students and what they would plan Roses to be like.

Holly Foster, a final year marketing student, is involved in multiple sports at university, including being the current Lonsdale college netball Club Captain as well as the publicity officer for the Women’s and mixed Lacrosse exec. Paul McCarthy, who has been VP Sport for the last year, has also been part of the university cricket exec, Lonsdale football exec and was involved with the bar sports execs.    

With COVID-19 affecting sport at university massively this year, the candidates were asked how they would accommodate for that next year, especially if no sports were allowed. Paul is hopeful there will be sports allowed so is more focused on what can be done rather than considering there being no sports at all next year. His experience over the last year as VP Sport means that he already knows some ways to try to keep students active but is aware there is some fatigue with that and aims instead to get as much activity to happen as possible as long as it is safe. He would like to stretch to the limit what students can do, no matter the restrictions, to get as much activity as possible in order to boost student welfare after such a difficult year and to get more freshers involved that haven’t had a chance yet.

Holly is also very hopeful to have more activities next year. Holly says as a student that has been on sports execs over the past year, she understands how frustrating it is to accommodate for the current restrictions. One thing she did for her netball team was to do online workouts – but made them fun. On the chance that there was no activity allowed next year, Holly states that it is still important to engage students, especially through college clubs. One way she suggests encouraging first-years to be engaged in college clubs would be to be paired with a ‘Buddy’ who is already involved in sports clubs.

When asked how they aimed to have sports be prepared for when in-person activities come back, Holly answered that the most important area is to make sure sports execs have had some solid training, especially for college execs. She states that last year the execs were told they would have training, and this did not materialise. She wants to make sure execs have access to resources, like with risk assessments, as well as helping execs with recruitment such as having a Freshers Fair that lasts multiple days to encourage people to sign up. Holly also wants greater consideration of exec member’s welfare, as she is aware of the strain they are under.   

Paul agreed with all of Holly’s points – reiterating that there is not enough training for college sports, and they need to be treated as much of a priority as university sports. For getting teams back going, Paul thinks that execs need as much support from VP Sport as possible as many will be new to the job. He hopes to give execs template models to connect them with alumni who ran clubs in the past to help them. He says that it has been a difficult year where the SU has been understaffed, so this is an area where VP Sports can step up. He hopes the risk assessments this year will be run a lot smoother since it has already been done before.

When discussing how they would engage people in sports next year if in office, Paul states he has various ways of doing so in his manifesto. He knows a big concern for teams is recruitment, as they missed out this year, so Paul wants to highlight as much as possible the benefits of being in a sports team at university. One way to do this is having a week-long Freshers fair, similar to the policy Holly proposed. He would also like to increase networks between JCR Sports reps so freshers with questions know where to go to get answers. Paul also says he would work with LCO’s to make sure sports clubs are more inclusive and welcoming for students to increase participation.

Holly states that her manifesto also tackles increasing engagement in sports clubs – with one of the main ways being to work with LCO’s, the LGBTQ+ societies, ethnic minority student groups and international student societies in order to understand why they are not engaging in university sports as much and to work with them to find solutions. Another way to increase engagement Holly suggests would be to increase college rivalries in order to get students in the competitive spirit and be excited to play sport.

When discussing plans for Roses, Holly also wants to include exhibition games within Roses, as this would increase participation. When questioned how this will be fitted into the tight Roses schedule, Holly states that she will extend the timetable, so the games play after the Roses weekend. Paul also mentions in his manifesto how he would like to have an alumni Roses on a separate summer weekend to the traditional Roses next year. Holly believes we should have the alumni games during the traditional Roses, rather than separate, and questions the funding. Paul believes that scheduling would necessitate it being over two separate weekends. He adds that in terms of funding the Alumni Roses will be ticketed and that college bars will likely make the event pay for itself.

Finally, both Holly and Paul agree that exec training is long, arduous and ineffective, and both aim to improve this.

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