With Candidates for both full-time Sabbatical Roles and Students Leader roles in the midst of campaigning, we interviewed each candidate running for full-time sabbatical roles to find out why they wanted the role and what they planned to do if elected. Ana Bond Esparraguera interviews Ben Parker, who is running for VP Sports Development.
Why are you running for the position and what experience that you have that makes you fit the role?
I’m running for the position because I feel that I would do a very good job at it. I’m very passionate about sport and I have helped the Lacrosse club to flourish this year, we’ve grown from 81 members to 126 this year which is a 50% growth. I am, also, involved in quite a lot of sports and I have been involved in them since my childhood. Moreover, over my time at Southampton I have been involved in: intramural football, the President of the Mixed Lacrosse club, the tennis club, Triathlon – and I’m probably one of the most active users of the Jubilee gym (as I’ve not missed a day in the gym for over a year). So, I feel that I’m very much involved in all aspects of sport at the University and I would love to help to progress the University’s sporting department.
What are the main problems you identify within the remit of the role and how do you plan to fix them?
One of the big issues within the role is the limited access to funding, there’s no sports courses at the University; which means that funding towards that side of the University is limited. A lot of my policies are low cost, for an example one of my most prominent policies is ‘Women’s Hour’ and implementing that would have little to no cost. Additionally, ‘Wear Kit Wednesday” is a cost free policy, which means we could help the uptake of sport and the image of sport across the whole University, without having to drain any of the limited funds available. My proposal of creating a ‘Team Southampton’ App, appears to be a costly policy; but I plan to use the intellect of media students to create the app. This would also help Sports and Wellbeing to attract members and hence I believe they would be onboard to help develop such an app, which could be be used to book classes, track members within the gym. Clubs would also be allowed to upload their training times, league fixtures, results and any other exciting news or stories from the clubs. This would also be really useful during freshers week to track training and taster sessions. Ultimately, one of the biggest remits within the role is the limited access to funding; but I would not be implementing policies that would have a massive drain on such resources.
You said in your manifesto that you wanted to create and implement a successful transition to the tiered Sport and Wellbeing membership, how do you plan to implement it?
Currently, as negotiated between current VP Tom Provan and Sports and Wellbeing, a three tiered system is proposed. The implementation of this system is on behalf of Sport and Wellbeing, they will be selling memberships as they have done in previous years with three different price brackets. I would be the face of the Union side of sport, helping to re-assure clubs that this a good decision, helping to ensure that people get the right membership option for them. As well as this, it would solve any problems with the intramural system, currently one has to pay £40 regardless of if they have a Sport and Wellbeing membership or not, these members will not have to pay the £40 and instead get the minimum level membership (giving them access to the facilities when they have to play, without the full membership).
You also said in your manifesto that you want to improve funding fairness, how do you plan to do that?
This is a very tricky question, as President of the mixed lacrosse club along with many other Presidents, their interests are to benefit the club as much as possible and so they will apply for funding where they can justify that the Union will give it to them. I’m sure many clubs apply for funding where they already have such facilities, for an example a club may apply for funding for a new set of helmets, but they don’t actually need to replace them. So, I would design a system where by money can be followed up so that money is spent where it needs to be spent, so that the Union can avoid giving money where it is not going to be invested properly.
How will you finance the “My Southampton” app development?
As I mentioned earlier, the app development would enhance the product that Sports and Wellbeing provide, people will be able to book classes easier and thus the gyms wouldn’t need as many people to answer phones. So, I believe that Sports and Wellbeing would be very keen for this app development to go ahead and so I believe that they would help to fund the app. Furthermore, as previously mentioned I plan to utilise the intellectual capabilities of the students at the University already, to help minimise cost.
A lot of people have said the classes at the University gym are not varied and challenging enough, as well as the equipment being outdated. What do you have to say about this?
Personally, I am a big user of the classes at Jubilee gym. I regularly go to circuits and insanity. I find that with a lot of classes they can be as hard as you make them – you can push yourself to the max, or take it easy. To some extent, I would say that one hour of training is down to the individual, if certain classes were not challenging enough, one could do a review and look at ways to increase the difficultly level. I would also look at increasing the number of classes and having tiered levels of difficulty, so that somebody who is a beginner can go to a class and feel challenged and slightly more advanced people can go to the slightly higher level of the same class to ensure that everybody is being pushed to their maximum ability.
Give us a 30 second closing pitch as to why students should vote for you to be VP Sports Development.
I’m a very well rounded individual, I’m passionate about all corners of sport and I want to ensure that everybody gets the maximum experience out of their time at University. I want to see as many people joining sports clubs and the intramural system, utilising the facilities available which will be encourage implementation of some of my campaigning points, such as ‘Wear Kit Wednesdays’, ‘Women’s hour’, and the promotion and creation of a ‘Team Southampton App’.
Vote for Ben and see how I can Benefit you.
Ben Parker, thank you.