Friday 28th June 2019

University of Strathclyde Welcomes Our 2019 Annual Conference

The University of Strathclyde opened the doors of their Business School to welcome our 2019 Annual Conference delegates and speakers to Glasgow.

On a bright Wednesday morning in June, our Conference was welcomed to the University of Strathclyde’s Business School which would come to be the backdrop for two days of learning, sharing and some fun alongside colleagues and friends in the sector.

Once all of our delegates took their seats, they were welcomed to the 2019 Conference by our wonderful Chair, Pete Burgon who promised two days of thought provoking content along with the opportunity leave with some actions to take forward to your institution.

It was then time to take some popcorn and dim the lights for Foxlake Cinema which was the opportunity for our members to showcase some of their year’s best practice for others to take away and adapt to suit their College or University’s needs. As we are in the sporting sector we added an element of competition to it by asking the delegates to clap for their favourite video. Queen Margaret University’s video ‘Breaking down barriers for students with a disability’ walked away with the win and received a team trip to Foxlake Adventures at a date of their choosing. Congratulations to Rebecca, Andy and the QMU team for their great practice!


Then came our eagerly anticipated opening speaker, Futurologist Mark Stevenson – or a strategic adviser as he calls himself – to the floor to hear his take on the good, the bad and the ugly of the next 20 years in business. He started with the bad and ugly, stating everything from democracy to the planet is broken, with 1% of the world’s population own 50% of its wealth. Mark made it clear that bottom up diversity is key to future success. The more diverse the people involved in making the future better, the better the future will be. Luckily for us, the good Mark was referring to was sport and the values it encourages such as fair play, team work and resilience. It was a delight for us to have Mark opening this years Conference with such passion and drive. Mark is the author of two best-selling books if you wish to read and learn more about his work.

After a short break it was time to hear about how Student Support and Sport are so closely aligned from the Robert Gordon University’s Director of Student Life, Filippo Antoniazzi. Fil took us through a day in his role, the variety of student services he manages and the successes and challenges that come alongside his role. There was an emphasis on student mental health and the role physical activity and sport can play in combating the rise of these issues at University and College and how sport a role inclusive plays in breaking down barriers and creating happier and healthier students.

Professor Moira Lafferty, the Deputy Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Chester travelled to Glasgow to tell us about her research called ‘Student athletes’ initiation practices and their impact on group cohesion’. As a result of this Moira created CHANGES (Challenging Hazing and Negative Group Events in Sport) is a one-hour intervention workshop with the aim of using a proactive, rather than reactive, method of challenging unwanted behaviours. Moira is coming to Scotland in August to deliver training. If you are interested in taking part, please sign up HERE.

After lunch, the delegates had a tough choice to make, as there were three great workshops on offer; Ambitious – Developing stronger clubs with Herriot Watt University and Scottish Hockey, Collaborative – Next generation of partnership with Scottish Football Association or Inclusive – The importance of data driven equality work.

What does ‘Clean Sport’ mean? Luckily for us we had a panel made up experts; Sports Consultant Sarah Gandon, Retired Olympic Medallist Robbie Renwick and Senior Lecturer in Sport and Psychology Dr Laurie Patterson to answer those difficult questions. The panel discussed and highlighted the marketing influence that food brands have and discussed the blurred lines between what is good and bad ingredients for anyone competing in sport, not just an elite high performance athlete. Here are some recommended sites from the panel; 100% me for education and information and Globo Dro to check medications.

Just before we finished day one of Conference our COO took some time to recognise the attending students who graduated from the SSS Leadership Programme. The SSS Leadership Programme is an offering open to all member institutions. The programme provides a platform for student personal development, with a particular emphasis on enhancing leadership and employability skills. Students are encouraged to reflect on experiences, apply new concepts to real-life settings, and network throughout the course of the programme. Please talk to your Regional Development Coordinator for more information regarding the 2019/20  applications.

Once Stew thanked the speakers for their time and the delegates for the attention and great questions, it was time to head to the brand new Strathclyde Sport facility for some UV Fun and a quiz!!

Day two at the University of Strathclyde started with the traditional morning jog to Glasgow Green led collaboratively by our very own Totty Horn and Strathclyde’s incoming Sport President Maddy Watson. Thank you to the friendly cyclist who stopped to take this great picture of the tribe!

We start the day’s proceedings with the AGM. The members were welcomed by Chair Pete Burgon and taken through the current business by COO, Stew Fowlie. For more information and detail, please see the minutes.

Once business was complete, Stew took a moment to thank University of Dundee’s Director of Sport Brain Ewing for his forty plus years of dedication and work to the student sport sector. No words can truly explain the impact Brian has had in his years of student sport in Scotland. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We then started back with a bang. Born Barikor from Our Parks hit the delegates with passion, drive and inspiration explaining how he grew a one man start up, into a successful initiative partnering with councils and local authorities bring free group exercise to the London area. He stressed the importance of the human connection and understanding and knowing your audience. An inspirational man, who wants the nation to turn up, tone up!

We were delighted to welcome Stewart Harris, CEO of sportscotland to the University of Strathclyde to hear about their new cooperate strategy, Sport for Life. This new strategy focuses very much on making sure sport in Scotland is accessible, affordable and inclusive for everyone in order to get more of Scotland active. Stewart then sat down with Sport Sabbaticals Georgia Moran, Edinburgh Napier University and Paddy Everingham, University of Glasgow for some questions asking about Stewart’s history as a P.E. teacher and in Basketball in order to get him where he is now.

After lunch we were delighted to welcome Marina Thomas, Marina Solutions and Debra Martin, Business Development Manager of Sport at University of Stirling to discuss student engagement, customer journey and the development that University of Stirling Sport has been doing. Very interesting discussion and I am sure all of the work and effort will be appreciated and noticed by the students at University of Stirling.

It was then time to split off into workshops, on offer in day two was; Development – SAMH Charter for Physical Activity and Sport, Competition – World University Games, the dynamic duo of Ross Simpson and Chris Purdie, Advocacy – Building the tribe with everyday advocacy hosted by our very own Chair, Pete Burgon and despite train previous train delays we had, Responsive – Emotional resilience masterclass delivered by Switch the Play. What a choice to make.

Also best of luck to our very own COO and Chef de Mission Stew Fowlie and the entire GB Team who leave for the Summer University Games in Naples on Wednesday 26th of June!

We could not think of a better way of closing our annual Conference than Jane Campbell Morrison hosting a discussion with our Honorary President, ultra-endurance cyclist and World record holder Mark Beaumont. Mark has been celebrating a decade of achieving world firsts, pushing ultra-endurance and sharing his inspiring journeys and we are thankful he was able to share all of that with our delegates.

We would like to thank again University of Strathclyde Sport for hosting us and taking the time to assist us with the running of the Conference.

To our wonderfully inspirational speakers, workshop hosts and sponsors; Viper 10, Precor, I Love Tour and MSL, thank you for taking the time to visit us and demonstrate how we can all be doing a little more to make big difference it is greatly appreciated!

We look forward to seeing what has inspired some of the great work in 2019/20.