A leap of faith: the making of UCLU Parkour Club
The Tab talks to UCLU Parkour Club’s Alex Jones about what it takes to build and nurture a new sports society.
Alex Jones, second year undergraduate, has been on a whirlwind journey. And not just any journey: a journey through UCL Union politics and procedures to lead to the creation of a new sports society ready for this academic year.
“It’s been my life for the past few weeks,” he beams, looking less stressed than most of us do after a one hour lecture. Just under a month into the first term, the club has achieved 1000 signups at Freshers’ Fair, 85 members in their Facebook group, 400 names on their mailing list and sold out of all 24 places in 24 hours at each of their events in Try Fortnight. Looking at the figures, no wonder he’s so relaxed.
It all began last year, when, discovering a mutual interest with a friend from halls, Alex and now Treasurer Nick Christensen committed to working together to bring the up and coming sport to UCL. Also known as ‘freerunning’ and having military roots, the discipline is usually performed in urbanised areas which lends itself as a platform for running, jumping, climbing and landing skilfully over walls, rooftops and anything else in their way.
“There’s no other society like it in any union in the country so it wasn’t too difficult to convince UCLU that it would benefit from something different which could potentially be very popular,” he adds. But it wasn’t an easy ride.
After coming up with the idea, Alex and Nick still had to get through the initial application which began by giving a presentation to the union’s Activities Board. Having won them round, they attended a compulsory two day risk assessment course learning about how the union operates and how to plan events. “Naturally it was lots of paperwork, but it’s worth it,” Alex admits. “They even funded both of our Level 1 Parkour coaching qualifications which would have otherwise cost us £350.”
So they’ve clearly got the starting numbers but it’s all about maintaining interest. “All the sessions so far have been a success with many people saying they’ll join. A few had done it before and there were lots from martial arts backgrounds and other sports which had transferable skills – although most were complete beginners – and there was a good mix of both men and women.”
A participant from one of the taster sessions commented: “it was exciting to be thrown straight into the stunts seen on TV. It also felt like a real cardio workout – definitely got a lot for £5.”
All clubs and societies have to start from somewhere and UCLU Parkour looks set for a successful and exciting first year. They’re looking to continue with weekly outdoor sessions, hold some indoor sessions and even group together with other societies such as Dance and Climbing. They’d also like to take a trip to France: the birthplace of Parkour.
If you’re interested, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/ucluparkourclub. Why not take a leap of faith and join? It’s only £8 for the year…