INTERVIEW: VP Sports Development Candidates

With the 2015 SUSU elections fast-approaching, the Soton Tab have invited all the candidates to be interviewed about their campaigns. The role of VP Sports Development will be hotly contested, […]


With the 2015 SUSU elections fast-approaching, the Soton Tab have invited all the candidates to be interviewed about their campaigns. The role of VP Sports Development will be hotly contested, with four candidates standing: Stephen Barratt, Roman Martin, Ashley Sivarajah and Jamie Wilson. Just why should you vote for them?

vp sports candidates

(left to right) Stephen, Ashley, Roman, and Jamie.

Why is sport important for students and the university?

Stephen: Fitness, Social, a sense of belonging and self-worth, a competitive spirit, a welcome distraction from academic work and employers love it; sport is an easy sell!

Roman: Sport is incredibly important to a student’s physical and mental wellbeing. As a member of a University sports team students get to meet a whole range of people they would never have met in lectures. From competing in national championships to taking part in weekly exercise classes, sport provides students with important life skills such as teamwork and time management, for the University all this helps make their students much more employable in the future.

Ashley: Sport is important for students as it is a release from studies and a great way to stay fit as well as meeting new people.

Jamie: As well as the obvious aspect of keeping fit, sport is a great way to escape from the stresses of a degree. It is also a fantastic way to meet new people and is good for students’ mental health. A good sports programme will also encourage new students to apply to Southampton.

How will you encourage more students to have an active role in university sport?

Stephen: By making sure they are aware of all the opportunities available, especially through communication via JCR committees. By promoting sporting success at the university with weekly results and use of the screen in the SUSU reception. By encouraging students to engage with the community, especially by giving talks and sports lessons in local schools.

Roman: Far too often students miss out on discovering a new sport due to the fact that the bunfight only lasts one day. Obviously holding an extra bunfight isn’t feasible; however, I would encourage sports teams to hold more events and stalls on and around campus during the freshers fortnight in order to promote themselves.

Ashley: Clubs could look to host taster sessions throughout the year for people who want to try out the sport and those that play intramural that may want to represent their university.

Jamie: One of my manifesto points is getting Sport and Wellbeing to implement a tiered gym membership for those who do not want to use all of the facilities offered as on the current system. This will make it more affordable and, therefore, more people will get active. Check out my manifesto for the full list.

How will you improve involvement for people currently representing the university?

Stephen: Provide opportunities for reaching out to the community to make a real difference for the children of Southampton. Provide pathways to become coaches and match officials. Ensure we get the most out of our facilities and that problems are solved quickly.

Roman: I want to push greater opportunities for those interested in coaching. Many clubs currently lack coaches to support the increasing sizes of their clubs at all levels. For those that play at a high level it may be that they can spare one or two sessions a week to coach smaller clubs such as the intra mural leagues, whilst those who have played the sport for many years may be want to stay involved without having to put the hours of training in.

Ashley: A way of improving involvement for people currently representing the university is by making sure that all lectures and seminars on a Wednesday are uploaded to blackboard.

Jamie: I aim to encourage clubs to make use of external funding opportunities and also the Crowdfunding platform that is offered by the Alumni Office. I also want to lobby the University to fund more toward the cost of international level competitions. Feel free to send me a message or ask me on campus to find out more.

Why should SUSU promote the Team Soton brand, and how should it do that?

Stephen: Because it’s really important that we have a strong identity which stands for a set of values. These would be sportsmanship, teamwork, professionalism, inclusion and outreach. I want every athlete in Southampton to feel that they belong to something and to be proud of that. If you run it properly and align the teams with the standards, values and direction then Team Southampton promotes itself!

Roman: One of the key changes I wish to make is to help clubs obtain external sources of funding. By promoting Team Soton as a brand it becomes more recognisable outside of the University, making it more appealing to potential sponsors. One of the main ways SUSU can go about this is to improve social media and communication in general so that the great achievements made by Team Soton are seen by a wider audience.

Ashley: The Team Southampton brand should be promoted so that when clubs go to competitions other universities will recognise the brand, just like when you see a team playing in green or blue and yellow you know its Exeter and Bath respectively. This can be done by making the AU kit available for at all universities shops.

Jamie: The Team Soton brand has given us a sporting identity, which is really important. I want to expand on this by introducing an app that will allow clubs to enter live updates of scores and results. Additionally, I want to make Team Southampton more visible in the community through coaching in local schools.

What makes you the best candidate for VP Sports?

Stephen: Because I understand that elite coaching and grass roots participation is a robust path to success. Because I want to improve things not just for our students, but for the local community too. Because I have a strong relationship with Sport and Wellbeing and look forward to working with them to improve access to facilities. Because I have realistic aims and will not promise what I can’t deliver.

Roman: Since I started at Southampton back in 2011 I have played sport, coached sport and am currently President of a sports society. My passion for Sport at Southampton means that I will start working as soon as possible to ensure that all teams can hit the ground running as soon as preseason starts.

Ashley: Since joining university I have played top level sport for two clubs as playing a few intra-mural. Over the years I have understood how sports is being run at the university and what can be done to improve it.

Jamie: Continuity is key, and from my experience sitting on the Sports Development Zone, Athletic Union and chairing the Intra-Mural Committees, I will be able to work effectively as VP Sports as soon as the handover is completed. I am a very approachable person, and will take the time to listen to all clubs and help implement their ideas.

Jesters or Sobar?

Stephen: Jesters.
Roman: Jesters!
Ashley: Jesters.
Jamie: Jesters. But you will often find me at Sobar on Tuesdays as well.

Who is your sporting hero?

Stephen: 11 time Olympic medallist and reality TV failure Ryan Lochte! Jeah!

Roman: The members of the Oxford and Cambridge rowing teams who this year will be racing along the same stretch of river as the men. 2015 will be the first year in history that this has happened and marks a huge milestone for equality in sport.

Ashley: Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff

Jamie: Jason Robinson. Overcoming difficulties in his personal life as well as representing Great Britain/England in both rugby league and rugby union is an amazing feat, and he was part of the rugby World Cup winning team. (Or Sir Matthew Pinsent, although I nearly knocked him into the water with an oar!!)

If you had to summarise your campaign in three words, what would they be?

Stephen: Coaching, Community & Participation.
Roman: Communication, Organisation and Results!
Ashley: Ashley of Wessex
Jamie: Win With Wilson

Who do you think is the best choice for VP Sports Development? Vote in the poll below!