Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Impact has been gathering information and speaking to all of the candidates for the Executive of your Students’ Union. Our reporters have probed, questioned, and endeavoured to find a way of differentiating between the candidates – to find out to just what is underneath the manifestos and what our potential leaders stand for.
Responsible for the facilitation and support of sporting activities at the university, the Athletic Union Officer plays a significant role in any sportsman’s time here. Whether it is Intra-Mural sport, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), or the massive Varsity series, the officer is responsible not only for making sport happen, but also for ensuring that as many people as possible are included. With only two candidates standing for AU (and two good friends at that!), we help you take your pick between the two athletes in this head to head match-up.
Lowri Morgan writes…
Rob Hawkin believes his passion for sport is clear from his role as a sports co-ordinator at a school in Australia during his gap year and his current involvement with the Athletic Union as NUFC Vice-President and the 2nd XI Vice captain.
His policies demonstrate a desire to give something back to the Athletic Union, particularly his intention to continue with the success of Varsity and get greater practical support and sponsorship for all clubs. As part of this policy, he would like to ensure that all clubs are catered for. This cannot be done without funding and he therefore hopes to attract more sponsorship, particularly for larger clubs, to ensure that they can compete at the highest level – inevitably, he argues, the bigger clubs are the ones who will need more funding. It will therefore be interesting to see how he plans to secure this increased sponsorship.
He also intends to ensure that everybody gets the opportunity to compete at the highest level through improving links between University sports clubs and intra-mural clubs. His experience as part of the University football club inspired this policy, as they have a custom of conducting trials for players in the intra-mural teams to get into the University teams. Although this may be the policy in the football club, many other clubs fail to provide any such talent spotting opportunities and he would therefore aim to implement it across the majority of the AU clubs, as well as conducting one-off tournaments.
Part of this policy is aimed at professionalising intra-mural sports, which raises the question as to whether the intention of intra-mural sports is competition and winning, or simply enjoyment and participation? This policy is closely linked with his intention to offer student coaching and referee courses. This would provide different opportunities and also ensure that there are a greater number of referees to choose from, a pertinent issue considering the increasing number of no-shows on match days. When questioned as to whether there is really a great desire to referee amongst students, he cites examples of enthusiasm shown for the role during Freshers’ week.
Rob also intends to continue with the developments in disabled sports achieved by Alex Hingley, and argues that there should be a focus on showcasing the services currently available to prospective disabled students. At the same time, he hopes to play a part in the continuing development of a high profile Varsity series.
By improving coaching and refereeing, while increasing adding a more professional edge to university sport, Rob’s policies seem to be aimed at taking sport at the university to higher levels of achievement than ever before. With the balancing act between excellence and inclusion and continual issue for the Athletic Union, it is up to the voters to decide whether this strategy is what is required to ensure that Nottingham’s Athletic Union can continue to develop.
From his time as Rugby Union 1st XV captain this year and Social Secretary last year, Dave Heads feels he has the experience required to be a successful Athletic Union Officer. As he already takes on tasks such as publicising Varsity, securing sponsorship and motivating a high profile team, Head has already experienced many of the responsibilities involved in the Exec role.
His policies seem to be heavily targeted towards increasing competition at the higher levels. He intends to do this by finding affordable high quality coaches and improving the fitness and conditioning facilities available to elite athletes and 1st teams. He admits that this is not a very inclusive policy, but feels that it is necessary to ensure that the elite athletes at Nottingham have access to the facilities they need in order to compete.
He also believes that the decline of intra-mural sport needs to be reversed. He wants to continue with the initiative introduced by Alex Hingley to hold captains and referees accountable for no-shows. She made what was perhaps a brave choice in reducing the number of teams in certain sports by half, which in turn has subsequently paid off as this has secured a higher level of commitment, which has led to the subsequent reinstatement of some reduced teams.
Another aim of Dave’s is to secure sponsorship for all clubs. His idea, which he admits isn’t supported by the current Athletic Union Officer, is to merge certain clubs to make it easier to secure sponsorship. He also plans to get prospective sponsors to create a rough guide to help clubs when applying for sponsorship.
Despite his desire to increase competition at higher levels, Dave also proposes a much more inclusive policy by ensuring that non-BUCS teams are successful. He particularly expects to see development in outdoor pursuits, who focus more on enjoyment and fitness and therefore may not need the same resources as other clubs, such as rugby. He therefore feels the requirement to deal with clubs on a more individual basis in order to get the best deal for everyone.
One of his key policies concerns sports centre membership and his intention to create the option to pay membership fees monthly. The question remains, however, whether this will prove feasible in practice. Although there is no mention of continuing development in disabled sports, Dave Heads’ policies appear to be quite inclusive, ranging from assisting elite athletes to non-BUCS and intra-mural teams.
Finally, Dave has made a push for more publicity for University sport and the Varsity series, particularly in the University media. He made particular reference to Impact Magazine which he feels, as the most widely received form of media at the University, should include dedicated sections for results and ‘team of the month’. He hopes that this would lead to much-deserved recognition of athletes’ and teams’ achievements.
Images by Matt Turner