VPSW- The First Semester


As we near the end of the first semester not many people will have been as busy as Sports Union President James Reid over the past few months. Presiding over the Sports Union executive has been, as he put it, “filled with lots of challenging moments, but they’ve been good challenges and I’m ready to keep meeting them”. These moments are just part of the job however, and we looked at what has happened at the Sports Union over the first semester of Strathclyde’s 2014 season.

With roughly around 48 active teams on the Sports Union this year university sport has never been busier or more popular and 3 clubs at Strathclyde were boosted by RBS funding this year as part of the Bank you Build scheme, James outlined that: “We had around 15 teams presenting to RBS to try and secure funds. The level of presentation was very high across the board but in the end only 3 teams were able to acquire the sponsorship. The cycling, Tennis and Women’s basketball teams all managed to secure finances to use for long-term development which will benefit each of those societies enormously”.

Continuing the positive financial note, then, the continued endorsement of the Glasgow Taxi’s cup by the firm was announced earlier this month as they committed to another 4 years of sponsorship in a deal worth around £25,000.The move was welcomed by all 3 Glasgow universities, who will meet on the 19th of March next year for the day-long event. “It’s great to know that there is now funding to sustain the competition for the next four years. As Host University this year we’ve already put a lot of effort into the organisation. Having somewhere like The Emirates as a finale showcase venue in a commonwealth year for students to compete is extraordinary. As Glasgow Taxis have committed to this for the long-term the burden on the all of the Sports Unions has eased, and as well as organisation we can focus on fielding our strongest teams on the day and making sure all of our team captains have a strong and coordinated strategy when it comes”
Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games is a focal point for the whole city next summer and many students have missed out on volunteering. Reflecting on this, James spoke about LEAD2014, a programme which trains 18 student volunteers to deliver leadership conferences to secondary school students and play an active role in promoting The Games. “A lot of students are disappointed about not being able to volunteer, but I know this programme is a fantastic way to meaningfully increase the involvement of Glasgow’s student population in The Games. As a Sports Union we’re trying our hardest to increase our community engagement and I see LEAD2014 as being a very beneficial way of doing that. Whoever takes part will gain leadership skills and qualities and play an important part in relaying the importance of sport and activity to younger schoolchildren as well as gaining valuable experience through completing the scheme.”

Strathclyde’s position in the BUCS rankings has been bolstered this season by the thus far unbeaten records of men’s football, tennis and hockey as well as mixed badminton and volleyball teams, women’s tennis and men’s rugby have each just suffered one defeat in BUCS to date also. The win ratio of the university sits at 60% and James spoke of his desire to close the gap between ourselves and Dundee, who sit just ahead of us in the Scottish rankings. While the competitive edge of sport is undoubtedly one of its most alluring features, for students who do not have a set sport, or who just want to try something new, the Sports Union runs a ‘Rock up Sports club’, and the first of the season saw a good turnout for people who wanted to try volleyball. The initiative provides a free session for students to try a different activity out and meet new people. The next session will be focused on wheelchair basketball, with James adding: “We’re teaming up with West of Scotland’s Wheelchair basketball club to put on this session, it’s always encouraging to raise the awareness around disability sport and hopefully sessions like these will. We’ll be hosting free activities next semester too in different sports as part of the Rock up sports club scheme for anybody who wants to try a sport maybe they’ve never had the chance to before.”
The problems of timetable clashes on Wednesday afternoons have long been a source of frustration for students who want to be involved in University sport and their annoyance is shared by the VPSW. “It’s an ongoing battle that all Scottish universities face. The good news this year is that there are a lot less students affected by timetable clashes than there were previously; last year there were well over 100. That’s something we’ve managed to cut down substantially this semester and with the James Weir building reopening after Christmas we hope there will be even less as there will be more classrooms available, but it’s my belief that there should be no students that have to miss out and it’s an issue I’ve raised, and will continue to raise, repeatedly”

In addition to sports James’ role also covers the wellbeing of students at the university, and while every student will be trying their best to supress the fact of January examinations, the reality is that they’re extraordinarily close., and he spoke at length about the importance of not becoming undone by stress due to exams. “It’s been proven repeatedly that stress is the biggest factor affecting students’ wellbeing and that’s why I think it important to underline that people should not leave their revision until, say, early January. We know people don’t want to hear about exams during the Christmas period but it’s vital not to just leave your revision to one side, and then find yourself with everything to do in January. Even if it’s just an hour or two extra a day, you’ll really notice the difference. When the May exam diet comes as well we’re going to be pushing even harder with the exam boot camp to try and help people manage their revision and studying”

We talk at length about the perks and pitfalls of the job, what has been successful this semester and what could be implemented in the next, rather reflectively, James concludes that “The overriding sentiment is that I’ve really enjoyed myself so far as president, there have been taxing challenges, of course, but there always were going to be. We have more people doing sport here than ever and that’s obviously my main aim, to get as many people as involved as possible in university sport. Going over to the CSR or steppes on a cold Wednesday and watching our football or rugby team win is what this is all about for me. I’m into my 5th year of being involved in university sport and I’ve had more time to be involved in some different and more obscure stuff, not least because I’ve been roped into doing a skydive! Which, among many other things, is on the agenda for next semester”
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