Thursday 24th February 2022

In the first event of its kind, the SSS Women’s Futsal Festival proved a big hit with participants and has built strong foundations to grow the sport. Emma Kern (SS Futsal Communications, Wellbeing and Inclusion Officer) explains more….

The first-ever Women’s Futsal Festival took place on Saturday 19th February and was hosted by University of Stirling. The event was delivered in partnership with the Scottish FA. Alongside a development workshop, three student teams took part in a tournament alongside Boroughmuir Thistle U19s, in what was an outstanding showcase of high quality futsal.

The Futsal Development Workshop took place with guest speakers educating and informing existing players, and some that were new to the sport. Steve Chatila, founder of Perth Youth Futsal and coach at University of Edinburgh, kicked off the workshop with a talk on tactics and coaching. Steve used his experience of coaching in the Champions League to inspire a new generation of female coaches in the game. Gordon McCabe, a SFA, UEFA and FIFA Futsal referee, gave an update on changes to the laws of the game, and explained the refereeing pathway while outlining the fantastic opportunities to travel the world for officials. The final presentation was from Beth McKay, former University of Stirling student and now football player for Heart of Midlothian. Beth also plays futsal for Northern Ireland and she spoke about her career and the positive impact of a dual pathway for futsal and football players.

The round robin tournament took place in the afternoon, with the student teams named “Amandinha”, “Peque” and “Ana Catarina” after some of the top female players in the world. Teams comprised student players from the University of Strathclyde, University of Stirling, University of Edinburgh, the University of the West of Scotland, University of St Andrews and City of Glasgow College. These teams were joined in the draw by a representative squad from Boroughmuir Thistle U19s, many of whom were participating in futsal for the first time.

Goals quickly began to flow with Amandinha and Peque drawing 2-2, before Boroughmuir then claimed their first victory with a 6-0 win over Ana Catarina. Amandinha also beat Ana Catarina (3-0), followed by a very close game that ended in a win for Boroughmuir against Peque (1-0). Peque got their first win against Ana Catarina (3-0) before the final group game  saw Amandinha beat Boroughmuir (3-1).

In between matches, the teams took part in a penalty shootout challenge, with players having 10 seconds to drive the ball from the halfway line and score. This gave players an opportunity to showcase their futsal skills but also showcased the high standard of goalkeeping on display. The first shootout saw Amandinha beat Ana Catarina (1-0), followed by a victory for Boroughmuir against Peque (1-0). After the playoffs, Ana Catarina managed to come in third place in the challenge after beating Peque (3-2), whilst Boroughmuir secured first place against Amandinha (2-0).

The group stage finished with Amandinha in 1st place followed by Boroughmuir, Peque and Ana Catarina. In the third-place playoff, Peque finally started to click despite not having any subs, and comfortably beat Ana Catarina (10-0). The final saw another comeback win for Amandinha against Boroughmuir (4-2), meaning that the leaders of the round robin cemented themselves as champions!

Overall, this tournament provided our student teams with the opportunity to play against different opponents and with different teammates. This also introduced youth football players to futsal in the hope to promote the sport nationally.

Watch the video below to hear more about the day…

Filming by YFS Media.

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Wednesday 26th January 2022

February is LGBTQ+ History Month, help us celebrate the great work of the membership!

SSS logo with LGBTQ+ colours

In the words of our LGBTQ+ Lead Carolina, “every month we focus on supporting the inclusion of LGBTQ+ sporting participants across Scotland”, now it is time to shine a spotlight on that work. This LGBTQ+ History Month, you can help SSS celebrate the great work of the membership alongside your student clubs, unions, and facilities.

Here are some ways you can get involved:

Student Club Spotlight

During the month, SSS is going to share at least one spotlight story each week from across the country that is doing good work within their club by creating a safe & inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people – Do you have any clubs in mind? If so, please email your interest to Eilidh before Monday 14th February to be featured.

Rainbow Laces

SSS would like to donate our limited stock of Rainbow Laces to our members (max 100 pairs each) during this month with the only cost we ask to be covered being postage. The laces will be reserved on a first come first serve basis. If interested please email Eilidh.

Football v Homophobia Month of Action

FvH Grassroots is an initiative supported by Puma to get grassroots football clubs to take action to tackle LGBTQ+ discrimination in football throughout February, the Football v Homophobia Month of Action. We recognise this is an individual journey for each club, so the campaign pack will provide different ideas which clubs can adapt.

Find out more here.

Trans Active Glasgow & Edinburgh (NEW!)

LEAP Sports programs, Trans Active Glasgow and Edinburgh are friendly sport and physical activity groups where students and community members will have the chance to socialise with other trans people, make friends, and try out new things. Now new to the city of Edinburgh, find out more here.

LEAP Sports Corporate Cup

Would you like to enter a ten-pin bowling team, raise money for LEAP Sports and compete for the win in Glasgow? Find out more here but be quick, there are is limited number of space left.

Thank you to our partners LEAP Sport for continued assistance with our development within this area of work and to our LGBTQ+ Lead Carolina for the passion and expertise she bring to her volunteering role in SSS.

If you have any further questions, please contact our Inclusion & Culture Coordinator, Eilidh.

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Thursday 25th November 2021

Para-Swimmer and Edinburgh Napier University student Laura Pilkington, shares reflections on coaching, education, mental health, & overcoming challenges.

 

In a brand new SSS feature, Spotlight On, we caught up with our Disability Lead Laura Pilkington.

Laura is a para-swimmer and currently studies at Edinburgh Napier University.  She tells about her story so far, touching on education, mental health and overcoming challenges!  

Hi – I’m Laura Pilkington, and I am a para–swimmer for Falkirk Integrated Regional Swim Team and I’m studying Physical Activity and Health at Edinburgh Napier University. I am currently a member of the Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) Young Person’s Sport Panel and sportscotland’s Young Person’s Sport Panel as well as the Disability Lead for Scottish Student Sport. My journey has been more of a squiggle line than a straight one, but I have learned so much along the way, and looking back it has made me who I am today.

In 2016, I was starting the third year of Computing Science at the University of Stirling and I wasn’t enjoying it. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my future, and I felt so lost and alone. I eventually got some support and made the decision to drop out of university. I felt like a failure for giving up, but I also felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders. During that time, I really struggled with my mental health and didn’t see a positive future for myself. I wanted to highlight this before I talk about my leadership journey. It was never a straight path and if I told myself 4 years ago, I would be where I am now I would have never believed it.

After taking some time out and going abroad to Mallorca, I decided to get back into my studies. I started at Robert Gordon University studying Applied Sports and Exercise Science. It was at this point I wanted to do some coaching while I was there, Alison Shaw (Scottish Disability Sport Regional Development Manager) suggested I apply for the Young Start (YS) Programme within SDS. I got paired up with Kelly as my mentor who coached at Bridge of Don. I loved it, Kelly was great and really supportive and by the end of that year, I gained my swimming teaching qualification. Unfortunately, at the end of my first year at Robert Gordon University, I decided to take a leave of absence due to still struggling with my mental health. This was hard as although I loved the course, I still wasn’t in the right place mentally to be able to complete the degree. But having the teaching qualification from the YS programme allowed me to get a job and get some experience working while I figured things out. I loved the programme and took all the opportunities to go on courses and upskill myself.

In March 2020 the pandemic hit and the YS programme was moved online, this gave me a drive and something to work towards during that time and without that I would have struggled. I felt a sense of purpose and wanted to use that time to make a difference. During that time, I graduated from the YS programme as well as starting the Disability Wellbeing and Me project with fellow Young Start members. This was important to me as I struggled to accept my disability, especially at university and I wanted to use my experience and what I had learned to positively influence others.

In November 2020, I was accepted onto the sportscotland panel and even to this day, I still can’t believe I got through the selection process. Raising awareness of the positive impact of sport and getting more people involved is so important to me. We are now in our subgroups, which I am in the PE, Education, and Schools. I am also Scottish Student Sport’s Disability Lead, so far we have run an event for individuals transitioning from school to higher education (see below). It can be such a challenging transition and having an open space to talk about it is so important. Within the SDS Panel, I have been involved with the Comms and Branch subgroup, raising the profile of opportunities available to young people with a disability.

It can be hard combining training with 3rd year at university, but I am part of Napier’s Dual Career programme which is great in supporting me and allowing flexibility within my studies. This time around I am so much happier studying something I love and enjoying training in the pool.  It is difficult to admit that something isn’t right for you but taking that brave step and making a change can be the best thing. I still have hard times, but I am getting better at asking for support. I used to never think I was capable of all the things I am doing now but I am so glad I made the first step in saying yes to an opportunity instead of no. Getting involved in leadership has made such a difference in my life.

Scottish Student Sport would like to thank Laura for sharing her personal story with us. If you have any questions for Laura or how to encourage students with disabilities to take part in student sport, please email Development Coordinator Eilidh Paterson

If you would like to be featured on “Spotlight On” or know someone inspirational with a story to tell then please get in touch.

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Tuesday 9th March 2021

In celebration of #InternationalWomensDay, the latest BiteSSSize Best Practice webinar featured four inspirational women who shared their journeys through working within Scottish Sport. Read the highlights and rewatch the conversation here!

In line with our growing ambition to get more people participating in sport and as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, SSS were delighted be joined by four fantastic females who shared their experiences as women working within the sporting world.

Georgia Moran hosted the call that exemplified the wide range of different career paths in sport. We heard from Laura Montgomery of Glasgow City FC, Rachel Cremin from the University of Strathclyde and Netball Scotland, and Sophie Fusco Mckeown, official at Wimbledon in 2019 and University of Edinburgh graduate.

There were many similarities between the panels first experiences of sport, and some of the barriers they faced. This ranged from a lack of enough opportunities to participate, to the conscious and unconscious bias within sport and society. There was a particular emphasis on the importance of positive role models and for projecting the opportunities for women to participate. Though this shouldn’t focus solely on playing – we should highlight the variety of roles that women can get involved in throughout sport.

In keeping with the theme for International Women’s Day our panel shared experiences of when they have to decide to #ChooseToChallenge. These were a mixture of people and processes that have stood in the way of women progressing in sport. While it is important to recognise these challenges, it is equally important to look ahead.

In a post-Covid world, sport has the opportunity to engage and empower a whole new audience. We have seen habits change and more people become more accustomed to regular physical activity. Providing opportunities to participate, for every level of ability, is where student sport should focus the collective efforts to ensure a healthier and more confident future for women in sport.

Watch the webinar in full here ⬇️

 

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Tuesday 23rd February 2021

Our Equality Steering group have recruited four new volunteers onto the group. Meet our Women’s, Ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and Disability Leads here!

The Equality Steering Group was established to advise and prompt the staff, committees and networks of SSS on all relevant aspects of equality and inclusion, with particular emphasis on ensuring adherence to a rolling Equality Action Plan for the organisation. Meet our four new volunteer leads!

Emmanuel Akerele, Ethnicity Lead

Meet Your LeadMy name is Emmanuel, after serving for two years as Robert Gordon University’s President for Education and Welfare, I am now their Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor working within the HR Team. I love and play football and I am very passionate about equality, diversity, and representation within sports and wider society.

What attracted you to the role? I know that still racism exists, having experienced it myself and hearing of others’ experiences. It is imperative that everyone be anti-racist, and act against racism until it is completely eradicated. During my studies, I co-founded RGU’s Black Liberation Network which is a network of students coming together to take a stand against racism. I have also led several activist campaigns in the past such as Black History Month and hope to add more value to the subject through SSS.

Fun fact about yourself? I love football and I love scoring goals. I am a big boxing fan and my favourite sportspersons are Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Joshua.

 

Carolina O’Neill de Sousa e Sá, LGBTQ+ Lead

Meet Your Lead: I’m a Portuguese/American who grew up in Lisbon and has been living in Scotland since 2013. I’ve been an avid sportsperson for most of my life; taking every opportunity to get involved in sports teams, competitions, and outdoor activities. I studied at the University of Edinburgh – as an undergraduate in Sports Science and a Masters in Sport Policy and International Development.

Like most people, it was during my time at uni that I really came into my shell. One thing which definitely helped me was joining the Women’s Football Club. It was a place where I felt understood and like I could be entirely myself. It was during my Masters that I developed my passion for promoting equality and diversity through sport, particularly LGBTIQ inclusion. I now work as a Senior Project Officer for LEAP Sports (Scotland’s LGBTIQ sports charity) and Football v Homophobia Scotland.

What attracted you to the role? Student sport is a dynamic, fast-paced industry so I have always considered SSS to be an exciting organisation to be involved in. As for the role, this is a completely new role within SSS so it feels like a clean slate and something I can get creative with. LGBTIQ inclusion in sport is what I’m passionate about, and I’m really looking forward to working with students and sports clubs all over Scotland to make student sport a more welcoming space for all LGBTIQ people.

Fun fact about yourself? Not a fun fact, but my claim to fame is that I went to school – in Portugal – with Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier. He was in the year above me, and I used to play football with him during our lunch breaks.

 

Laura Pilkington, Disability Lead

Meet Your Lead: My name is Laura Pilkington and I was born with a disability called Brittle Bones disease. I am a current student studying Physical Activity & Health at Edinburgh Napier University. I am a competitive para-swimmer and have been involved in swimming for the last 10 years. I am part of the Scottish Para-Swimming team and have Scottish para-swimming records in my classification. I am currently part of both Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland’s Young People’s Sport Panel. I am also a swimming teacher covering shifts when I have some free time!

What attracted you to the role? I am passionate about inclusion within sport and know how much being involved within sport can have such a positive impact on your life; mentally, socially, and physically. However, I know that there are barriers that prevent those with disabilities taking part. I think raising awareness of these barriers within SSS is really important as well as finding out how best we can promote inclusion within disability sport. Sport is such a big part of student life and having a disability shouldn’t stop you from participating in this! I am really excited to work with the team and SDS to increase participation.

Fun fact about yourself? I can lick my elbow!

 

Georgia Moran, Women’s Lead

Meet Your Lead: Hello, I’m Georgia, SSS’ Women’s Lead. I studied Popular Music at Edinburgh Napier University, where I got quickly involved in the Students Association for four years before being elected as VP Sports & Societies for two years after I graduated. I am now the East Regional Development Officer at The RYA Scotland.

Being VP Sports & Socs lead me to so many amazing volunteering opportunities within SSS such as Elected Students Forum Chair, Competitions, Equality and Executive Committee Member and Chair/Founder of the Women in Sport Working Group. I have a passion for Equality and Inclusion in sport and I can’t wait to continue making a positive impact on the Student Sport Sector with SSS and the rest of the Equality Steering Group.

What attracted you to the role? I am excited about this role as it will provide more positive impacts to happen within the SSS membership. I have chaired the Women in Sport Group from 2019, now and I am so excited to keep pushing forward with the rest of the team. I have loved volunteering with SSS the past couple of years and I believe this group will have some amazing outcomes.

Fun fact about yourself? When my mum and I were visiting Nashville, Tennesse we were invited on stage to sing a couple of country songs in one of the most famous bars.

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Wednesday 16th December 2020

Inspiration, innovation and collaboration at every corner. These were some of the key themes that emerged from the SSS 2020 Festive Gathering. Over 70 members tuned into the virtual gathering and were treated to thought-provoking discussion, high-quality guest speakers and plenty of Festive Fun! Read all about it here!

In a change to tradition and a fitting tribute to 2020, the SSS Festive Gathering was delivered virtually this year with over 70  members across the tribe tuning in to hear from a panel of world-class athletes and leaders in sport.

Whilst the virtual gathering was a first of its kind, the longstanding tradition of participants wearing festive jumpers remained true – with some fantastic outfits on show throughout the afternoon. None more so than panelist Robyn Love (pictured below) in what is undoubtedly a candidate for the most festive photo of the year.

After an energising welcome from SSS Chair Pete Burgon, a brief review of the year gone by and finances approved – our attendees were met by two equally inspiring and thought-provoking discussions from our special guests.

First up, the Road to Tokyo panel, where SSS Head of Competitions Chris Purdie, was joined by three athletes whose experiences through student sport had helped shape their career path and their journey to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Neah Evans (Cycling), Megan Gaffney (Rugby) and Robyn Love (Wheelchair Basketball) discussed how their positive student sport experiences helped them reach where they are today. From balancing the workload of their studies with the pressure of performing in their sport and also trying to keep up a social life in the process, the panelists spoke honestly and fondly of their student days.

All three touched upon the huge sacrifices required to make it at the top level and acknowledged the vital support they received from their institutions and staff during their time at University. This support has been vital to them and many other young athletes looking to achieve their potential while also studying and preparing for their future.

The panel discussed the importance of resilience and “bounce-back ability” that the challenges of Coronavirus and lockdown caused before previewing what promises to be a jam-packed and exciting year of sport in 2021.

All three have very real and promising hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games and everyone at SSS wishes Megan, Robyn and Neah every success for 2021 and beyond.

Following this inspirational panel, the next section was packed full of ambition, innovation and collaboration at every corner: An Audience with Jan Paterson.

Jan is currently Managing Director Sport for Neom, delivering a bold new vision of future living. Neom is being designed as a global city for global citizens and Jan’s role is to engrain sport and physical activity in the lives of residents. In the future city, citizens will never be more than 8 minutes from a sports facility and physical activity will be an integral part of the curriculum.

Jan herself is a pioneer and her experiences in leadership roles were a great learning opportunity for our audience. She spoke of the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people, and the significance of bottom-up team building. We also heard some great stories of her times at the World University Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

To round off the day and in true 2020 style, the SSS Tribe were treated to a Zoom Quiz of the Year courtesy of Pete Burgon. This gave everyone a chance to show off their best Christmas jumpers, share some “funny” Christmas jokes and engage in some much needed festive cheer.

We would like to wish everyone a restful festive break and we look forward to seeing you all in 2021.

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Thursday 26th November 2020

In what has been a difficult year for everyone, we are focussing on the good work that has been done across the country amongst these uncertain, challenging times. We asked our members to share some of their “COVID Highlights” and moments they have been proud of this year. Here is what they came up with 💙

Online classes, revamped facilities, virtual welcome fayres, free gym memberships, mental health and wellbeing resources, virtual socials and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fundraising – it is safe to say that not even a global pandemic could stop our members, partners and sports clubs from making a difference. Here are a few “COVID Highlights”  from our student sport community.

University of Strathclyde | Community Spirit & Fundraising 

Strathclyde Sports Union has not allowed the current pandemic to affect our community spirit and fundraising efforts. This semester we have witnessed sport member’s most creative thinking and determination to continue to play sport. After restrictions stopped them from training, our rowing club swapped their boats for bikes and completed a ‘Time-lapse Challenge’ in aid of Scottish Association for Mental Health charity. This consisted of a 25-hour cycling endurance event in teams of four, with an extra power hour being added due to the clocks changing. The challenge was completed online via Strava, so it was the perfect event to do as a club while adhering to covid regulations.

The club completed laps within Glasgow Green working in various shift patterns throughout the night. The club’s community spirit ensured that participating members were supported throughout – people chipped in to act as mechanics (attending to seven different punctures throughout the event) and chefs, baking plenty of sausage rolls to keep everyone fuelled. On completion of the event, the club raised an impressive £1195 with the teams cycling over 300 kilometres throughout the 25 hours.

Whilst indoor sports club training was halted, our Netball club showed incredible innovation and looked for an outdoor fitness solution. The club took their nets and set up at Strathclyde’s outdoor sports facilities, Stepps Playing Fields, utilising an old blaze pitch (pictured above). They set up their posts and lines, on a largely derelict space, to allow members old and new to step foot on a court. These training sessions saw even the most senior club members make their first-ever trip to the University facility, brave the cold and get to enjoy throwing a ball around again.

As part of the StrathActive programme, the club is currently running online zoom fitness sessions, allowing those that are bound by travel restrictions an opportunity to participate. The club runs two sessions at Stepps per week, ditching their shorts and t-shirts for baselayers and joggers. The sessions may look a little different but the club have really demonstrated resilience and a determination to play. #PlayTheModifiedGame

University of Glasgow | Wellbeing Resource & Makeshift Facilities

As lockdown began in March and our facilities as we know them closed UofG Sport immediately jumped to action to create a wellbeing offering for all of our students, staff and community. In a matter of days, we created a webpage and filled it with a range of content for everyone to access for free. Initially, we started filming classes with our amazing active lifestyle team and uploaded them for people to continue exercising no matter where they were based. The page went from strength to strength and now includes a whole range of information resources including nutritional advice, bodyweight circuits, home-workouts and couch to 3K training plans, meditation tips and links to support resources.

✔️Since March our wellbeing resource recorded over 10,000 clicks.

Another highlight at GUSA has been the new intramural programme to invite students to get involved in sport for free without restrictions of memberships. This has massively improved the student experience at a time when most other social activities have been restricted. To support these activities we have adapted our facilities where ever we can – turning our outdoor rugby pitches into volleyball courts and using an outdoor marquee to host the boat club.

✔️In the last month, over 550 students attended our brand new drop-in Badminton and Table Tennis sessions to replace cancelled sports.

 

 

RGU | Digital Content & Free Gym Memberships

To support our community to remain active and take time to look after their physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown, RGU SPORT created Stay Safe Stay Home Stay Well. An initiative that saw us work with departments across the university to give the RGU community free access to the breadth of our services. Over the course of 23 weeks, we offered daily digital content ranging from live classes and stretching sessions to mindfulness visualisations, showing our commitment to keeping our community well during the challenging times being faced.

On campus we continued to place our student wellbeing at the top of our priorities. We believe the benefits of physical activity and using the facilities at RGU SPORT extend through all aspects of University life, whether that’s improving physical and mental wellbeing, meeting new people, increasing motivation or potentially enhancing academic performance.

Due to the challenging time students are facing, we believed the opportunity of free membership for the remainder of semester one for all students, regardless of individual physical activity background, would be a great way for students to get active at RGU and maintain an active lifestyle in order to support a healthy body and mind, without having to worry about the cost.

This opportunity has been made available to all students, whether or not they have used, or even visited the gym before. RGU SPORT is a safe space for students with a team who are always on hand to support students in their physical activity journey.

University of Dundee | Active Living Programme & MND Fundraising 

In response to COVID-19, the ISE Active Living Programme delivery immediately moved online in March, with nine classes delivered weekly, supported by online member resources and guidance. Regular member circulars with updates, guidance and reassurance ensured that online class attendance was very positive, with over 40 participants for some classes.  The feedback from programme members, who are in the highest risk COVID category, has been overwhelmingly positive:

“The classes have been the best thing about lockdown. Apart from maintaining some degree of fitness, the classes have added some much-needed structure to our days.”

The success of the programme delivery resulted in its manager, Hazel Ednie, being shortlisted for the Evening Telegraph’s Dundee Champion Awards 2020

On the sports clubs front, over the summer, the Dundee University Men’s Rugby Club worked together with club alumni to complete 1,000000 reps of different exercises in support of Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

After 30 days of hard effort, the club successfully completed 1,027,746 reps and smashed their fundraising target of £2k, with a total of £3894 raised. The individual efforts of one member – who completed 6012 reps on the final day – highlighted the individual and collective efforts of the club and its commendable focus on those in greatest need.

University of Aberdeen | Performance Swimming  & Space Management Volunteers

After three months of lockdown, the possibility of elite swimming returning emerged in June 2020.  Working in collaboration with Scottish Swimming, colleagues from the University and Aberdeen Sports Village seized the opportunity to host one of three regional ‘Performance’ locations (Aberdeen, Edinburgh & Stirling).  Plans were initiated to mobilise quickly, with colleagues returned from furlough, documentation produced, COVID training undertaken, and building compliance ensured.

By 20 July all the necessary checks were complete and ASV was able to facilitate the successful return of elite swimming and diving to ASV’s world-class aquatic facilities.  This ensured that performance sport was able to resume six weeks before other aquatic activity in ASV.

Although initially open to only a handful of elite athletes, the high-performance programme helped enable the wider return to sport.  Alongside ASV and University staff, club volunteers, Scottish Swimming officials, and the swimmers tested our health-related and building-specific processes and procedures, with all seen to be robust. This bred confidence ahead of the return of both public and club swimming which took place in September. This highly collaborative exercise was undertaken with exceptional dedication and attention from all partners.

The pandemic related contribution of the sports staff at Scottish universities hasn’t just been about facilitating the resumption of student sport and maintaining facilities.  In Aberdeen, the specialist Sport & Exercise Team mucked in to help their Estates colleagues complete a vital institutional assessment of teaching spaces.

With Aberdeen Sports Village closed and most of its staff furloughed, the University’s small team of specialist sports staff were also furloughed through May & June.  However, when an opportunity came up that required adaptable, resourceful, and physically active staff to volunteer to support the wider University effort to reopen the campus … the sport and exercise team jumped at the chance to come off furlough two weeks early.

Armed with hand-sanitiser, masks, tape-measures, common-sense, and a giant bunch of keys, the team set out on the exercise.  They visited, measured and analysed every seminar and lecture room on the University’s Old Aberdeen campus.  Each room was assessed for various social distancing scenarios; furniture was counted, logged and moved to lay the rooms out in the optimal format; and a data sheet for every room was compiled.  Ten days and 100 rooms later an exercise vital to the timetabling of face-to-face classes in the autumn was complete.

University of Edinburgh | Wellbeing Offering 

Given the unique challenges of this year, student wellbeing has been at the forefront of all of our activity so far. Sophie Weeden, our Wellbeing Officer, has worked on creating a dedicated wellbeing pack for all club welfare officers. A huge amount of planning went into various EUSU campaigns across Mental Health and Wellbeing Week(s) across November. Our #LetsTalk video highlighting men’s mental health had over 28,000 views across all platforms; we are running Mind Athletics and Growth mindset workshops; and have created a brand new social media campaign.

Alongside this, many of our sports clubs have supported Movember and a number of other mental health-related campaigns during this time, highlighting the importance of student wellbeing across our membership. Staying with sports clubs, during lockdown a number of our sports clubs took the opportunity to fundraise for different charities, including;

  • The Boat Club raised £2500 for Alzheimer’s Society by rowing for 24 hours straight on an erg – breaking the Lightweight Tandem world record in the process!
  • Ladies Rugby raised over £2000 for SAMH, My Name’5 Doddie, and Coppafeel – by virtually cycling/running/swimming from BT Murrayfield to each of the 6 Nation Stadiums – a total of 1,900 miles in just 7 days!
  • Our cricket club raised over £3000 for Age Scotland – running/cycling/swimming the length of their planned summer tour – from Edinburgh to Barbados, in total a whopping 7,800 kilometres in 12 days!

Heriot-Watt University | The Watt Welcome Fair

The Watt Welcome Fair was a celebration of all that is good about a University environment. A Sports Fair is not new as a concept but in the midst of a pandemic, Heriot-Watt held its largest-ever fair (based on the number of stakeholders) at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, with attendees from across the Heriot-Watt Community. These included the Sports Union, Students Union and Chaplaincy to name but a few. With so much activity around induction and welcome being online, the fair gave new students a much needed physical event to attend.

The planning for the event ended up being military level with every single detail scrutinised to ensure everyone’s health and safety was looked after. All key partner groups were part of the planning and delivery with over 100 volunteers from both the Sports Union Ambassador and Student Union helpers teams supporting the event.

Such was the success of the event, discussions have already started on how the 2021 event, with or without covid, will be bigger and better next year.

Once our new students signed up – our sports clubs activity took off! Our main highlight of this season so far has been our Movember campaign.Our Sports Clubs are doing a phenomenal job raising money for Movember this year – taking part in fitness challenges, growing moustaches and hosting socials, raising over £20,000 so far! We never would have thought that within a week we would’ve surpassed last years target of £14, so we decided to revalue our target to £25k.

Our HW Movember Ambassador Stewart Morgan is leading the campaign. Movember is a campaign close to his heart and he has been instrumental in raising money and awareness for the cause. He spoke with Mark Beaumont SSS Honorary President Mark Beaumont earlier this month about the campaign, chatting all things student life, motivation and the importance of speaking up about mental health. Alongside Mark, Stewart also interviewed Tongan Rugby Player Nasi Manu to discuss their experiences with Testicular Cancer in the hopes to encourage others to regularly self-check and take action if they feel something is not quite right! Stewart also managed to link in with external companies such as First Bus to advertise our campaign and John Pye to host a Movember Auction which has turned out to be very successful and raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause.

As well as fundraising through growing a moustache or doing exercise our Clubs have held socials too – both our Volleyball Club and Basketball Club hosted a virtual Bingo and Movember Quiz Nights to add to our ever-increasing total.

Everyone at Heriot-Watt is hugely proud of all our sports clubs who have built such a great community spirit together during the pandemic.

QMU | Food Pantry & Inclusive Movember 

Despite the disruption to the regular season, QMU’s Sports & Societies have joined forces to raise awareness and funds for Movember 2020. But it hasn’t just been moustaches! Students from a diverse range of sports & societies such as Men’s Rugby, Netball, Hockey and Musical Theatre have all shared a common goal in challenging themselves to get active, completing ‘5K per day’ challenges throughout the month – raising the profile and awareness of men’s physical and mental health. In just twelve days they raced past last year’s fundraising total of £3,500, an immense achievement in the current circumstances. 

 

Also on campus, recognising the additional pressures that the pandemic has put on students finances in particular a group of QMU students worked with local partners Cyrenians and QMUSU to develop QMU’s first-ever food pantry! This student-led project aims to provide healthy, quality food and ingredients to students, in an affordable and accessible way. The first of its kind in Scotland, and possibly the UK, the Food Pantry has been a huge success in its opening months and has become a must-visit for students living on campus!

University of St. Andrews | Charity Work

In line with COVID restrictions, the St Andrews Hockey club has been able to provide regular hockey activity throughout the first semester of 2020/21  in a safe and competitive environment. We have had a record number of students join the club, consequently expanding our squads to 8 women’s teams and 3 men’s teams. We were also able to host pitch sessions for freshers in line with national and university guidelines, giving them the opportunity to meet new people in a safe environment. We are thrilled with the positive attitude everyone has brought to training this semester.

Since May the club has been actively raising money and supporting charities that are close to the club. In May, members ran over 4,500km and raised £4131.76 for SAMH as part of our ‘Run 4 SAMH’ challenge – a challenge which will be completed again next year and hopefully become a new tradition for years to come. Students participated in ‘Green Week’ by hosting a virtual veggie cooking competition, using reusable bottles and more sustainable transport decisions. The club is currently participating in Movember, encouraging the ‘run and chat challenge’ as well as some moustache growing. As of today, the club has have raised £4,138 and ‘moved’ 2345.15km.

We have loved hearing all your positive news stories over the last few weeks. All of this work only scratches the surface of the hard work and countless hours the student sport community have put in throughout this unusual year. We are so proud to be able to showcase this fantastic work from our members. If you have a good news story you would like to share with us please contact Communications Coordinator Gavin Rittoo on gavin@scottishstudentsport.com.

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Friday 29th May 2020

SSS are pleased to announce that we have been awarded the Intermediate Level of the Equality Standard in Sport. Read the full story about what the award is and how we achieved it!

SSS recently received the very positive news that we have been awarded the Intermediate Level of the Equality Standard in Sport.

This achievement represents three years of excellent work within the organisation and significant leaps across student sport in terms of participation, projects, and partnerships.

The Equality Standard is supported by sportscotland – via Plan4Sport – as part of its expert resource help to governing bodies and other partners. By working through the standard, funded organisations are encouraged to own and deliver an Equality Action Plan that can demonstrably improve their impact on people in protected groups.

For SSS this has produced a number of highlights including:

  • Our well-developed work with partners at Scottish Disability Sport
  • An active contribution to the SAMH Charter for Physical Activity & Sport
  • A lead delivery role within the rejuvenated Healthy Body, Healthy Mind programme
  • The collection, collation and analysis of better equality data
  • A series of impactful campaigns and projects including Rainbow Laces, CHANGES, and She Can She Will
  • Embedding value-based decision making across SSS – adopting an INCLUSIVE approach in all we do

Reaching the Intermediate award milestone represents another 2021 strategy target achieved, and so it is fitting to pause and celebrate the network-wide commitment that this represents.

SSS would like to thank all who have contributed to the work thus far, both across our membership and within the many partner organisations who have supported us along the way. A special thanks to Barbara Lawson and all of our Equality Steering Group members for giving additional volunteer time to help guide the work. We couldn’t have managed it without you.

Having reached this level SSS is now amongst the most developed sports bodies in the country. This important work will now continue towards the top-level (Advanced) over the coming years, in our bid to make student sport a place where everyone is able and welcome to play.

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Wednesday 12th February 2020

We recently caught up with Gemma Lumsdaine, a GB Wheelchair Rugby Athlete and advocate for both gender equality in sports and more provision for disability sport. 

SSS: Gemma, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule of studying and training to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 22 year old wheelchair athlete who plays wheelchair rugby for the GB Talent Squad
This Squad helps athletes make the transition to the Paralympic squad and play at the highest level. I am also in my third year at Abertay University studying Sports Development and Coaching. So when I’m not playing, training and studying, I coach at Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Sports Club.

 

I believe at the moment you are traveling to Sheffield for a training session, tell us a little about your sporting journey?

From a young age I was involved in individual sports such as swimming and horse riding which I was advised to participate in as a form of physiotherapy. In 2013 I joined my local wheelchair sports club Dundee Dragons which has been life changing for me as at the time I struggled to accept my disability and had low confidence but seeing other people being independent and succeeding in life really changed my perspective of disability. When I first started at Dragons the club only participated in rugby league but through a whirlwind of events I ended up playing my first game of wheelchair basketball for my country with only two weeks practice! The Dragons then developed into a multi-sports club which includes basketball, tennis, badminton and curling. I continued to play basketball for Scotland for a few years and loved it. However due to my impairment level I struggled with some of the fundamental skills such as shooting so I was recommended to try Wheelchair Rugby as it is designed for people with impairments in three to four limbs and involves many transferable skills from basketball. I fell in love with rugby and have worked my way up within the Sport and now play for the GB talent Squad.

 

As you know Scottish Student Sport have partnered with Scottish Disability Sport with the aim to nationally improve the sporting experience of students with a disability. What do you think about that?

I think this a fantastic project as sport has so many mental, physical and social benefits which everyone should be able to experience no matter what their disability, gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. I would like to see all students in Scotland with a disability being provided with the opportunity I have had. Without sport I do not know what my main motivation would be otherwise. One thing I do know is that I would not have the community feel around me like I currently do, I would be much more isolated.

 

As part of the national aim, SSS and Scottish Disability Sport are working alongside Abertay University in their working group which you are a part of. For other Universities or Colleges that might not currently be doing this work, can you share what being part of this conversation and what this development means to you as a student?

It’s such a privilege to be part of Abertay University’s working group and be able to represent students with a disability at the University. Helping to make a positive change which will improve the quality of students experience at University is pretty special. Not all students want to be involved in sport and that’s okay but the important thing is that opportunities and suitable provision are available if they wish to get involved.

 

SSS are lucky enough to have had you sitting on our Women in Sport Panel during last year’s Festive Gathering at Perth College. Can you tell us about the incredible work that you are currently involved in outside of University and athlete life?

I am delighted to be a member of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board. The board aims to create equal opportunities within Sport and Physical Activity for Women and girls across Scotland. As part of the boards role we set recommendations and advise the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders on how best to make a positive difference in sport for Women and Girls and as a result the group have recently released their ‘Level the Playing Field’ report, please have a read if you have not yet had the opportunity to do so.

 

If there is anything you could tell a student who is struggling to get engaged in sport at College or University, what would your advice be to them?

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Everyone has been a beginner at some point!

 

Thanks again to Gemma who took out time from her busy schedule to talk to us. Keep up the good work! We look forward to continuing to provide more opportunities to students with a disability across Scotland. If you wish to hear more about the Partnership contact your SSS Regional Development Coordinator or if you wish to seek advice for a student, contact a SDS member of staff in your area.

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Wednesday 18th December 2019

Read all about the highlights from our annual Festive Gathering which took place at Perth College, UHI. A fitting way to end an incredible year of Scottish Student Sport.

For the first time, the SSS Tribe descended on Perth College UHI for our annual Festive Gathering. We were delighted to welcome our members, colleagues and friends from across the length and breadth of the country to participate in a number of forums, workshops and discussions – giving everyone the opportunity to learn, collaborate and innovate the world of Scottish Student Sport going into the new year.

Stew the COO and SSS Chair, Pete Burgon kicked things off with a SSS update and overview of the accounts before we were treated to a practical session delivered by our friends at Scottish Disability Sport (SDS).

SSS has a strong partnership with SDS and this partnership has flourished with the number of events across our member institutions greatly increasing over the last few months – highlighting the appetite for disability sport in both Colleges and Universities in Scotland. Heather Lowden and Gavin Macleod, from SDS, were joined by wheelchair athlete Gemma Lumsdaine to deliver practical skills and theoretical insight into disability sport.

As well as learning more about the disability sport landscape, participants had the opportunity to test their practical skills; activities included visually impaired running,  Wheelchair Basketball, Goalball and mastering the art of Boccia. For a number of participants this was the first exposure to disability sport and raising this awareness is an integral element of the partnership between SSS and SDS.

After a hearty lunch,  we were treated to a panel discussion on Women in Sport and a keynote workshop on organisational sustainability. The panel was chaired by University of Stirling’s Cathy Gallagher who guided the conversation on a range of topics from participation in student sport to career opportunities and the role of the media in women’s sport.

Cathy was joined by Shelley Kerr, Head Coach of Scotland Womens National Football Team, Gemma Lumsdaine, Wheelchair Basketball coach and Wheelchair Rugby Player, and Laura McGhie, Sports Journalist at BBC Scotland.

With a wealth of experience on the panel we explored some of the barriers to participation but also the hurdles that women potentially face/faced in beginning their career in sport. With fantastic role models on the panel some of the topics discussed included how we celebrate achievements, encourage leadership and promote careers in sport for young women. One of the key actions to come from the discussion is to look for ways to better communicate and promote what we are achieving in the world of Women’s sport, and the importance of collaborative working to achieve this.

Following the panel discussion we were treated to a keynote workshop from Jen Curran. Jen works for Wren & Greyhound, a consultancy supporting the not-for-profit sector in working toward organisational sustainability. Jen delivered fascinating insight on a number of topics relevant to the SSS Tribe including income diversification, workload management and the importance of relationships.

To finish the day the Tribe had the opportunity to hear from Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal at UWS and recently elected Chair of BUCS. Craig’s background in sport makes him a great candidate to succeed Professor Sir Ian Diamond in leading BUCS forward and supporting the work of SSS.

Special thanks to the staff at Perth College UHI for playing great hosts and making us feel warmly welcomed. Thanks to our guest speakers, the Women in Sport Panel, SDS and all our members who attended, contributed and participated in what was a great day and a fitting way to end a hugely successful 2019. Here is to 2020…

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