Wessex Scene interviews Patrick Gilbert, who’s running for VP Sport in the 2018 Spring Union Elections.
So Patrick, why have you decided to run for VP Sport?
As simple as it sounds, I just wanted to. I’ve always enjoyed the organisational side of sport throughout my time at university and this is the progression of that – I’ve gone from committee and then to club captain, and it’s the next step of the process, essentially.
What skills do you have that you believe make you a perfect fit for the role?
I think it’s the fact that I’ve taken part in sport at the university on literally every level, so I’ve done the ‘scratched together’ team at the intramural summer tournament to being captain of the Rugby club so I’ve gone through every single stage and I understand the needs of every single person at the university.
What are the main issues you’ve identified that would face you in the role next year, and how would you overcome them?
There are two main issues at the moment. First of all is the value for money with a sports pass, it just makes no sense it being £110, and you can tell from the Sport and Wellbeing numbers how many people have actually bought a sports pass, but the other issue there has been is no established, clear direction at the moment. I know Steve [Gore], Flora [Noble] and the people at Sport and Wellbeing are working towards having a common objective, but just a bit more student consultation than the people right at the top [is needed], rather than it being one big announcement at the end. You may as well have student consultation at the beginning, and then it’s not as much of a surprise when it does happen.
How would you increase participation both at a casual and an elite performer level?
In terms of a casual level, I think the first thing that has to happen is value in the sports pass. It’s too high, if you just want to go and play five-a-side football once or twice a week, why would you pay £110 just to do that? These sorts of things should be a lot more accessible for everybody. There is obviously a balance between participation and elite performance, so you’re not really going to have ‘participation’ at the elite level if that makes sense? In terms of improvements for them, firstly I’m going to look at an adaptation to the Focus Sports Scheme, which is what I’ve been essentially charged with this year, and I want to have more people gain from it.
If elected, what are your three focal points going into next year?
The first thing I want to go for is more female-only sessions in Sport and Wellbeing facilities, more organised intramural sport, so people can actually see their fixtures in a season rather than just being told just before the weekend, and adaptation to the Focus Sport programme.
You’ve mentioned female-only slots at S&W facilities. This caused quite a bit of controversy last year, do you think this will increase the high demand the gym and pool already face?
In terms of would it increase demand for the gym and the pool, in those slots you’re looking at the amount of guys in there falling. I think it’s one of those ones where you’ve got to try it and see where it goes. The number of guys will go down, the number of girls will hopefully go up, and the goal there is to achieve participation. In terms of managing the business of the gym and the pool, I think numbers probably will increase but whether it’s one that isn’t manageable, I think you can look at the intricacies of the policies when I come into power.
One of the issues Steve [Gore] faced this year was a 15% budget cut. Bearing this in mind, do you think it’s feasible for clubs to pay SUSUtv an additional fee for equipment as outlined in your manifesto?
That’s more just if clubs want to, say you put in a £10-15 rental fee for a camera, and say you’ve got ten fixtures over the course of a season, it works out at about £100 and it’s not too much of an increase – you can raise your subs by £1 and that’ll cover it.
Can you expand on your point about transparent communication with Sport and Wellbeing?
I just think there needs to be communication from the beginning, so the message is coming across to the students from the off. The big thing that I’m looking back at is the introduction of the tiered gym membership, and that went through Sport and Wellbeing and AUC beforehand and we all knew, but then when it came out in one go – I think there was a Wessex Scene article on it and a SUSUtv video – and you don’t want there to be that sort of uproar when a decision has been made. You want to solve those problems from the beginning and talk people through step-by-step. Have the consultation at the beginning, and then you can bring it all together.
To find out more about Patrick Gilbert and what he wants to achieve in a year as VP Sports Development, read his manifesto here.