In the run up to the 2015 SUSU elections, the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing all the candidates for the roles on offer. Here I caught up with Ashley Sivarajah, an applicant for the role of VP Sports Development.
You’ve talked about improving communication between intra-mural and AU, how are you going to go about it initially?
There’s a couple of ways it could be done. When I talked about improved communication it was with a focus on getting more intra-mural players up into the AU teams. I know that there are loads of people at that level who are more than good enough to represent the university – sending representatives from the AU clubs to intra-mural games and training sessions and hosting normal sessions whereby some of these players can come along needs to be done. Getting people mixing from both sides is important, I feel.
Issues with funding where people aren’t that aware of what is going on is something many feel needs to be clarified. How are you going to make it clearer for everyone?
As president of the hockey club where we have a monthly committee meeting, I think this should be replicated with the AU teams, be it a member of each club or captains. There should be a meeting where upcoming concerns regarding funding should be addressed.
This month for example we’ve had varsity t-shirts come out and people only found out with very short notice about the deadline to get them. A few days to decide on participation or whether to go and watch varsity isn’t enough time. I can guarantee (at time of interview which was Friday 27th February) that there will be people who haven’t bought varsity t-shirts yet which just isn’t right.
It’s exactly the same with funding. When round two of funding came up, we only had a week to deal with it. It’s not enough as it’s something you really need to think about because you can’t rush the funding process. At one point you, might have an idea only to change it a short time after. If the proposal gets rejected you need a bit of time to find out why and be able to have a backup plan.
People I’ve spoken to often refer to developing the concept of ‘Team Southampton’. How would you look to further the work done on this so far?
Now that they’ve got the shop on top, one of the main things should be getting the Southampton kit in that shop for people to buy. When people come to the university they’ll see us wearing the maroon and navy and Under-Armour kit, realising we’ve got a strong brand and we’re a serious outfit.
When you turn up at the other universities such as Cardiff and Bath, you see them with their respective colours and they get more recognition when they travel. I feel we should definitely be promoting that level where we are able to turn up and everybody knows it’s Southampton as opposed to ‘who’s this team in maroon?’
You did mention in your manifesto about bettering national and international recognition. What needs sorting out first though?
Transport. I don’t just mean for AU clubs but any club affiliated to the university. Around 5 mini-buses and 80 clubs who, on average, have 3 teams each just isn’t good enough to be honest. Ideally, when you have an away fixture – getting all the teams going to that destination by one coach would reduce the cost for each club. It’s something I’ll definitely look at and aim to improve if elected.
You’ve suggested a practical solution to getting intra-mural players into the AU setup but what can you do to improve everyone’s experience of sport here?
One of the points in my manifesto was reducing the cost to book, say a squash court or hockey court, I know a hockey court costs £35 for an hour. If you want to go and play there for a one off it should be cheaper, especially if it’s only recreational. For a club to book an hour on the pitch isn’t too much but for two or three people to fork it out of their own pocket is a lot of money. Sport is only going to be more accessible to begin with if it’s cheaper than it currently is.
You’ve been president and a committee member within the hockey team. How much is that going to help you out?
Throughout this year I’ve come across a lot of barriers and tricky situations along the way and have had to deal with them. I’m confident I’ll be able to use all of those experiences to deal with what will be similar hurdles in the VP Sports role. There will be a lot more work because you’re dealing with a large volume of clubs instead but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to if elected.