Intra-Mural sport is neglected by SUSU

Members described the organisation as a “fucking joke”


Intra-mural sport is a huge part of the university experience for a large number of students. Guys and girls from every year will set aside their Sunday mornings to make the trek to Wide Lane, fight off Jesters hangovers and have a laugh playing sport with friends.

wide lane

Or at least that’s how it SHOULD work. The reality is much more often that students wake up on Sundays to see Facebook posts or texts saying that matches have been called off. While nobody LOVES playing sport with a hangover, this is always something of a disappointment.

Wide Lane has a fatal waterlogging problem. Somewhere along the way some genius decided that low-lying ground was the best place to put a load of grass pitches, meaning that they turn into mud baths the second the winter period sets in.

Even without rain games are called off due to frozen ground, and on the rare occasions when matches actually go ahead the long grass can hardly be called well maintained.

It is understandable that the Uni would want to prioritise AU sport, but IM sport is suffering disproportionately. The sports facilities are officially under the control of Sports and Wellbeing, meaning that SUSU have no direct control over their upkeep. Despite this, going via the union is the usually best way for students to make their concerns heard.

Frustrations have started to boil over recently, particularly on the SUSU Intra-Mural football group where several IM figures have been questioning SUSU’s VP Sports Development Jamie Wilson.

The maths does not look good for SUSU. Taking the football teams who play every week alone, there are 36 teams, with roughly 15 players in each team, although some have way more. That’s about 540 players who pay for Sport and Wellbeing membership, although the exact number can’t be verified. Sport and Wellbeing membership, which is mandatory to play in IM Sport, costs £155. That’s an income from students, one of the poorest demographics in the country, of over £80,000. And then there are other sports who have suffered from the state of the pitches, such as Rugby and Touch Rugby, who have had to cancel matches and training as well.

Screenshot 2016-02-21 at 6.06.59 PM

That puts a massive emphasis on SUSU to outsource the matches if they cannot provide an adequate playing surface, with outside companies providing effective 11-a-side pitches elsewhere in Southampton. Leigh Warren, President of Connaught FC told the Soton Tab: “The state of the pitches is truly embarrassing. It amazes me that a university of this size has such poor quality facilities. To my knowledge they have never made an attempt to find an effective solution to the problem”.

“People who play IM football have to pay to play, and every match that’s called off and not rearranged is money lost. I think the general consensus is that we are paying for a service and it is not being delivered”.

11056827_10153179023974791_333465324_n

Jamie Wilson and SUSU have recently announced plans to improve the drainage at Wide Lane, which would go some of the way to improving it. The Soton Tab got in touch with Jamie to get some further information regarding IM’s budget and Wide Lane:

“The Sports Development Zone budget is £273,757, of which £1,500 is given to the Intramural Programme. However, when the Students’ Union took over the Intramural Programme from Sport and Wellbeing, it was decided that the programme should be self-sustaining. There is no profit made on the programme.”

As well as this January has seen 184.2 mm of rainfall, about 80 mm more than the average rainfall for January, which also plays into the state of the pitches.  Towards the end of the season, we will be looking at ways to improve the leagues for the following season. This will include feedback from captains and will take place after Easter. No option has yet been ruled out with regards to next year.”

That means that just more than 0.5 percent of SUSU’s Sports budget goes on IM sport, one of the biggest groups in the whole Union. It barely registers on SUSU’s overall spend of £7million. This is contrasted against the tens of thousands of pounds that students pour into the IM budget.

The budget figure on its own does look relatively shocking, but SUSU are taking steps in the right direction to improve drainage. It remains to be seen whether or not more changes will be realised, or whether IM sport will continue to suffer.