Candidate Interviews: Stephen Gore, VP Sports Development

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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. Sports Editor James Moseley, interviews VP Sports and Wellbeing Candidate Stephan Gore.

 

Thank you for joining us Stephen, so why are you running for this position?

So basically I’ve spent four years with the basketball club, I’ve been the development captain, I’ve been club president for two years. So I’ve  seen sports at every level inside a club and I’ve had experience running a club. I’ve also been on the athletic union committee, so I’ve wanted to move my experience to a higher level basically, and just work with everyone else to sort of bring my knowledge and experience to the rest of the other clubs and help them grow like we have done with basketball club.

 

You’ve already touched on it, but what experiences do you have for this role?

Oh yes definitely, so I’ve been on the athletic union committee, sports participation committee and the intramural committee. So from my positions, I’ve just really wanted to get as many people involved in university sport because it really does benefit people. It’s the things that people really remember when they leave university and also I know that it’s not just about AU clubs, although being VP Sports you are the head of the AU. It’s also about the intramural program and to some extent, casual users. So I’m trying not to forget the smaller clubs who often get overshadowed by bigger teams. So intramural definitely needs a lot more attention and I think I can be the guy to give that.

 

On the note of smaller clubs, in your manifesto you talk about making sure their voices get heard. What kind of things would you put in place to make that happen?

So, another part of my manifesto was trying to attend as many fixtures as possibly for as many clubs as possible because a lot of the time you only really hear about the big fixtures. So hopefully if I can go and meet every single president and ideally their committee as well personally, then I can get to know what actually affects their club because sometime they don’t even know the Union has support in place for their individual problems. So if they know me on a personal level then I feel I can represent everyone equally.

 

Apart from smaller clubs getting overlooked, what other problems or things that you want to change are you looking to address?

My biggest sort of action points are redrafting the funding guidelines because they’re not very clear and appropriate to non-team sports or new starting out clubs that aren’t established and don’t compete in BUCs necessarily. It’s just not very clear, it’s sort of a one size fits all approach. So that’s my first big action plan. Secondly I want to make an additional bunfight, for at least the athletic union in the second semester because a lot of students are looking for new things to try out, not necessary at the start of the academic year but also at the start of a new semester. I think it could really help with participation and maybe flagging numbers in some clubs, they could really make a push there. And Lastly, I want to invest in long term storage solutions for as many clubs as possible. Because a lot of clubs, when they apply for new equipment the first question we ask is, how are you going to store that? And most of the time they don’t really have an answer for that so we just can’t approve the funding request because they haven’t thought that far ahead or their solution is something that is impractical like leaving it at committee’s place, like someone’s house. It’s not a good solution for the good of the club. So I want to make sure every club has somewhere dry, safe, secure and clean for somewhere to store their equipment. I would like to invest some Union money into that so they have a sort of longer term solution so they can grow.

 

In your manifesto you talked about providing incentives for clubs that were involved with intramural, maybe you could expand on that a little bit, what are the incentives?

Yeah, so, a lot of clubs currently don’t really involve themselves with the intramural league. But with my basketball club I’ve found its really helped with membership and involving more people, if we do enter teams into intramural because you get to know a whole new group of people playing your sport just at a different level. Maybe they’re more casual but they see your team, they see how much more organised it is, maybe you’ve got coaching which is in our case as well, our development team, and they decide want to take part. Especially with varsity and the kit that we provide, it’s quite an incentive that they just don’t get to see at bunfight. So the incentive itself is just for taking part and getting to know other teams and you can bring on new members like that. But we also want to be encouraging more athletic union clubs to be catering to the beginners so the type of incentives that come of the top of your head are. First of all, focus sports applications, are very oversubscribed, but if a club can prove me to me that they’re catering to beginners and making more people involved with their club then I feel like I would be more likely to award them a contract to some extent. Also funding guidelines, going back to that, already it says in the funding guidelines that we do like a club to convince us a bit they’re using the money to benefit as many people as possible but I would take that another step. For some things, if you can show me you have a development team or you are competing at intramural then I would be more likely to give you this money. Also lastly, if we do have a bunfight separately for the intramural, which might be possible but seems unlikely, but if we do I would allow AU teams to advertise at that bunfight but only if they prove they have a development team or they have an intramural team.

 

There’s two main things from your manifesto that I’ve picked out that appear pretty difficult to put into place. The first one is, to do with “Sport and Wellbeing”, your language towards them used in your manifesto was quite strong. How are you going to be working with them going forward?

OK, so which points specifically, was that the facilities or the price?

 

The price mainly, obviously it’s a thing that affects a lot of student and have strong views on.

So yeah, a lot of people were concerned about it, quite rightly so. So “Sport and Wellbeing” hadn’t really consulted the student body before they came up with this number. I saw it was ill conceived and short-sighted because it was. They assumed that their membership number would be exactly the same when in fact it’s been going down year on year. They didn’t factor in the fact that by increasing the price by 70% they felt that no one would choose not to buy membership,  which I think is quite naïve really. And they could have thought about it a little bit more before they implemented it. I would like to work with “Sport and Wellbeing” because it seems like they’re entirely separate from the Union. Obviously, VP Sports development does have meetings with directors of sport but as a president you don’t really get much interaction with them. Mostly it feels like they’re just getting in the way. Obviously they do provide a good service for the clubs and we require that and we need it, on the whole they are very good. It just feels like to clubs, they’re just trying to extort them for profit. The message they were giving us when they said that AU clubs had to pay for ‘peak performer’ was that they were just assuming we were guaranteed customers and we would therefore have to pay this extra 70% when originally what started the discussion of having a tiered membership system from Jamie two years ago was the fact that a lot of AU clubs, not all of their members go the gym. So we wanted to have some sort of system that allows us to use the facilities without having to pay for the gym as well.  But what they did was make us pay more money for what we already had and didn’t give us a lower tiered option. Thankfully they have compromised and it does look like that’s going to happen but it’s not guaranteed yet and we still need to fight for the rights of the student. It’s only because of the backlash from the student community and the work that the athletic union committee put in.So I feel like we need someone to be sort of firm with “Sport and Wellbeing”. To make sure the views of students aren’t overlooked. So yeah, I hope that explains it.

 

The other big thing in your manifesto was changing Varsity from a one day event to a two day event. Could you expand a little bit on how you think that would work with costs, transport and working with Portsmouth as well as other details?

Yeah, so, obviously it’s easier to implement this as the home team. I’ve seen in years past that intramural varsity doesn’t get well represented. If we have struggled fitting everyone in with the timetable the first thing to go is intramural varsity. Which I think is a big shame because we made a lot of steps to get intramural teams involved with varsity and then just to say they can’t play because we don’t have enough time. I think it’s a real shame, I think if we do have two days we can get a lot more going on rather than just squeezing everyone into play all in one day and then just nothing after that. Obviously we would have to work with “Sport and Wellbeing” quite closely, if we would want to have an extra day worth of their facilities and that’s something we would have to discuss but I think it could be quite popular among students because it just sort of makes more of an event out of it. It would be more difficult for the away team because you would have to pay for the transport, but we can negotiate that because the costs of varsity are sort of split between both universities so obviously an away team has higher costs because they have to have transport. There are options for that, to increase the budget, to have more of a push for merchandising. I wouldn’t like to charge more for students but if they are getting two days of events then that might have to happen. But hopefully we can find more space in the budget just through making Varsity a more productive sort of event rather in terms of merchandising the event than costing money.

 

Finally, can you us as a 30 second pitch as to why students should vote for you, Stephen Gore, as their next VP Sports Development?

*Laughs* I’ve done so many of these already. So, you should vote for me for VP Sports Development because I’ve had a lot of experience working with the current VP sports and the athletics union committee and a lot of other presidents and I know what the real issues are that affect them. I’ve also got a plan for everything that I am going to do and I’ve backed it all up and explained why I am going to do it. So for that reason I should be VP Sports Development.

 

Stephen Gore, thank you.

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