As part of a welcome to SUSU series, Wessex Scene are interviewing the 2015/16 Sabbatical Officers. Here I speak to Jamie Wilson, VP Sports Development.
What do you hope to achieve this year as VP Sports Development Officer?
There’s absolutely tons. There’s obviously getting tiered gym membership, finishing off the joint strategy work that Katie started last year, increasing presence of Team Southampton, improving disability sport provision, helping clubs find more external funding. It’s a long list! But I’m sure it’ll all get done.
What are you most proud of out of the things you’ve done so far?
I’ve not really had much time to do any of my own individual work because funding took three weeks. I had six hundred and forty applications to go through and after that it’s been Freshers’ bookings and I’ve not had much time. It’s all the basic things that take so long so I’ve not had time to start. I have started talking to the University about tiered gym membership and they seem quite keen to work with me so we’ll see what happens with that.
In your manifesto you mention improving Intra-Mural sport regularly, particularly with the referees. You blogged about yourself and Christie (Intra-mural Officer) seeing all of the structures and practices at other Universities. What is the plan and what have you done so far in those terms?
For now, what we’ve had to do is implement a referee card system which they [the student referees]have to fill out every time they referee. There’s a deadline to hand that back into us and if that’s not done and signed by both captains there will be penalties and points deductions. That’s been advertised to captains and we sent out a reminder email the other day. So that’s the first step. We also looked at getting paid referees but there wasn’t always ways to do it through cash due to cash handling issues and bank transfers being too complicated. So that’s probably something to look at for development of the programme later on rather than something we could sort quickly this year. I know Nottingham do pay their referees. I saw that they have qualified referees come along and they pay them to referee their matches, but unfortunately the way intra-mural works here we don’t have the budget in order to do that. But if it’s something that students are interested in pursuing, it’s something we’ll look into.
Another big point was the development of Team Southampton as a brand. What steps do you plan on taking and do you think students are already more aware of it than they might’ve been in previous years?
I’d like to think students are more aware of it. I think it’s partly because it’s now in its third year. It started in Varsity 2013, that’s when it was launched and it’s getting bigger. I’m trying to get more clubs to use Team Southampton kit off field as well as on field and at the very least try and get the Team Southampton logo somewhere on their stash just so that it’s seen more prevalently. We’ll try and get those all in the same colours as well. There are two reasons for this. The first is so that when we go and talk to the University they are aware of how big a thing sport at Southampton is so we can try and push sport higher up the agenda, because at the moment it’s not the lowest on their priority list but it’s not where it should be in my opinion and compared to other Russell Group universities. But that’s one step. Other steps are improving the social media presence. That seems to have gone well so far. Two posts of results from Wednesday (14th) have got a reach of over 5000 which is amazing. So it seems to be going well.
You’ve already mentioned the tiered gym membership. What’s the plan as far as that’s concerned?
So obviously it’s working with Sports and Wellbeing to make sure it’s financially viable for them. There’s a lot of background work that needs to go through them and they need to take it to student services. I know that they’re currently working on that. As soon as I get a chance to see it I will be telling everyone about what’s going on. But it is happening in the background, it’s just not going to be a quick fix. Hopefully it’ll be in place for the next academic year.
And finally, what is the most important of all of these things that you aim to achieve?
Well I really like the tiered gym membership that Katie and I have been working on. I think that actually getting the strategy written jointly with the University is going to have a much longer impact than just changing one thing, because that’s going to set off where we’re going to go from here for five or six years down the line especially with the new Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer coming in at the University. We have a real chance there to make sure that we put a mark on sport and set where we’re going in the future. So that for me would be the most important.