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‘If I win, I’d just love a Notty House Pie’: An interview with Jemma Upton

Jemma is running for Sports Officer 2018/19

For some people, sports teams have a stigma around them, but Jemma wants to change this attitude and make people more aware of how good for your physical and mental health exercise is.

She also wants to change gym memberships to be more flexible, and make people more aware of nutrition.

For those who don't know you, sum yourself up in a sentence.

Hey, I'm Jemma, I play rugby so I'm tougher than you think and you know that you need an Upton Girl!

What made you want to run for Students' Union Sports Officer?

I'm almost always in sports kit and if I'm not in uni, I'm at Goodwin! I want to be the person that people look to for inspiration in sport and I know I would do a great job of showing students that there are opportunities for everyone – no matter your ability, religion or identity.

I've been a player, captain and coach in a variety of different sports. Sports Officer is a combination of every role and it's the ideal job for me.

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Voting is now open for the elections, how have you found the campaign process?

The campaign process has been very long. I've luckily had a great support squad making magnets, signs and banners which has been so helpful. So far I've managed to juggle it pretty well with training, refereeing and two games of intramural netball a week … but the end is near and I'm hoping it'll all be worth it.

If you had to choose one big change you'd like to make as sports officer at Sheffield, what would it be?

The biggest change I want to make is student attitude towards sport. Manifestos and policies are all important, but it's not effective if your target audience just doesn't want to get involved.

I know there can be a stigma involved with joining a sports club, but I want to show everyone that sport is not only about having fun and making friends, but it’s a positive impact on a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of being active are endless.

I definitely want to increase participation in intramural and social sport, as they are great ways to meet new people especially if you’re trying something new.

Your manifesto includes a proposal to add new gym membership options, such as weekend memberships and swim-only memberships, do you think the current membership options are acting as a barrier for students to use the facilities?

I do think that the current membership options are very expensive for students. So I can totally see why they would act as a barrier and could put people off going to the gym. I definitely think that the best way of getting cheaper and more accessible membership options is by creating flexible plans and even particular “add-ons” that can lower the price and provide better deals for students.

If you’re busy during the week at uni or training, it might be helpful to have the option for a weekend-only pass. The swim-only membership would also allow students to get a better deal rather than continuously buying one off pool entry.

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Your campaign also stresses the importance of good nutritional knowledge for better physical and mental health. How would you make this information available to students?

I want to launch a Nutrition Awareness Week, similar to This Girl Can and the Disability in Sport weeks that have been run this year. This would contribute to and improve the Sport For All campaign which has been a great success. I want to invite popular nutritionists to come in and speak to students throughout the week, as well as creating accessible nutrition guides that would be available on an online forum or the Sport Sheffield website.

What's your favourite thing about Sheffield?

My favourite thing about Sheffield is how green it is. It’s so chilled around town (compared to London) and there are so many spaces to be outside, whether it’s in the Peaks or just parks around Crookesmoor.

If you could introduce a new piece of varsity merch what would it be?

Definitely towels. A varsity towel would be so handy post-game or even for a post-ROAR shower.

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If you won the campaign, how would you celebrate?

Part of me wants to say that I’d celebrate by going on a big night out, but actually I’d just love a Notty House Pie with the girls.

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

I hope that over the last few weeks I’ve shown everyone that I’m a genuine, fun person that will be able to hold up to her promises of making sport bigger in Sheffield. I know I might look like a rough and tough rugby girl but I’m a real softie on the inside.

All jokes aside, this whole campaign experience has been tough, but it’s made me realise how I could actually make a difference and I know this is my time to shine. There’s two days left to vote – so get online and make your choice!