Sabb Special: Jonny Brooks-Bartlett, VP Sports Development

We grilled VP Sports Development Jonny Brooks to see what he got up to as a Sabbatical Officer.

In the first of our Sabb roundup articles we look into the manifesto promises of the current Sabb team when they were elected and have our say on whether we feel they managed to keep them or not. Today we take a look into VP Sports Development Jonny Brooks-Bartlett’s time as AU Head Honcho.


Jonny’s full manifesto can be seen here, but here is a summary of the main points:

  • New gym at Wide Lane
  • Keeping Wednesday free for sport
  • International student interaction with sports
  • Increasing interaction between sports teams and AU department
  • Allowing focus sports access for individual athletes

Major Successes

Unfortunately, very few of us here at The Tab are massive sports nuts so we can’t look into some of the areas of Jonny’s reign such as interaction between the AU and sports teams in huge depth.

However, what we can say is that Jonny has definitely achieved one of his main aims. By September, Southampton will have a new gym at Wide Lane, stocked with equipment that has been requested by many of the sports teams who work out there.

He’s also managed to helm two highly successful sporting events, with both Varsity and Alumni sports days running smoothly despite horrific weather conditions.

Equally, he’s brought the AU in under budget, a difficult feat when there is a constant demand for money from all corners.

We interviewed Jonny to get his opinion on this year.

What was your happiest/proudest achievement of the year?

I’d probably split it into two, the first being the gym at Wide Lane, as this was the major manifesto point I campaigned for. The second thing though was actually nothing to do with my manifesto. It was understanding the role of VP Sports Development for what it is. At the start of the year I did what all the previous AU Presidents had done, but a few weeks down the line I looked at it and realised that they shouldn’t have necessarily been doing these things themselves. Instead, they should have been trying to put things in place, understanding their role and making sure we have the right officers doing the right jobs, the AU Committee working as they should and dealing with council-related matters.

On the other side of the coin… is there anything you regret having done or wish you hadn’t touched?

Oh yeah, I think that every officer will regret some things, especially in their first year. It takes time to fully get to grips with the role. So many people don’t fully understand what Sabb Officers do in fact, no-one does, I don’t think until they actually get into the job. Like I said before, I regret making the same mistakes in terms of doing the things that AU Presidents did before. As a Sabbatical, the new officers coming in are there to bring in new ideas and fill in the gaps at a strategic level rather than coming in and making the mistake of doing all the admin jobs and feeling that they have to get everything done and if they don’t get it all done they’re going to get their heads torn off.

So needing to take a broader management role?

Exactly, for example Varsity and Alumni, it’s not difficult but it takes up a lot of time through correspondence and simple organisation. If you wanted to you could just employ a member of staff who could do it every year, doing it better and better and take the workload off the Sabb. I think that AU Committee should appoint an officer or member of staff to take this off the hands of the Sabb, allowing them to step back and know Varsity is sorted and they can take an external view.

Is there anything you wish you’d pushed through?

Yeah definitely, intramural sport is something that comes up all the time. Each AU President before has just done AU stuff but now its VP Sports AND Development there’s a whole other side of sport that needs to be taken into account. Unfortunately the AU is really needy and didn’t get the support and structure it needed, so unfortunately it took up a lot of my time. I started work on Intramural and tried to get it moving so I think progress will be made there next year but I’d like to have looked at it myself!

Have you left a massive bombshell for your successor to find?

Ha ha. No I hope not! I was lucky, Dean sits on the AU Committee, and we’re good friends. We’ve been involved in AU for roughly the same amount of time, joining at the same time and we talk a lot. He’s been on the committee and was very involved so if there’s anything I’ve done that surprises him then I’ll be surprised as well ha!

Soton Tab or Wessex Scene?

Oh Soton Tab. Ha. I guess Soton Tab does the news; it’s the gossip news, the stuff that’s really relevant. I like the Wessex Scene don’t get me wrong, just to put that out there. Maybe I should have been more diplomatic there ha ha ha.

Ha ha, bombshell right there; Sabb hates Wessex Scene!

Ha ha yeah, oh god. No, I applaud what the Soton Tab do, it’s incredible. The Wessex Scene is just different and focuses on different things. Personal preference really! I prefer the things you guys do, but that doesn’t take anything away from the Wessex Scene.

Final question, would you rather spend the rest of your life as a Sabb or lick the Jesters floor after a night out?

I think I’d take the Sabb thing… not sure what could be on the floor of Jesters and I’ve worked in there ha ha!

So there we have it. As far as The Tab are aware it’s been a good year for Jonny, some good visible successes and behind the scenes he’s streamlined the AU, setting the groundwork for the future of the role of VP Sports Development.

Tab Verdict: Success