Wednesday 25th August 2021

SSS has launched it’s first ever forum specifically for those coaching in student sport. With a focus on Clean Sport and Coaching Young People the first session was a big success and you can read more about it here.

With ‘Learning & People’ being one of the key areas of development work for SSS as we move forward from the pandemic, the SSS Coaching Network has been launched to support the development of coaches at all stages of their coaching journey.

Student sport in Scotland is home to a huge number of coaches, whether that’s coaching intramural, recreational teams or elite performers on Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth pathways. Without this network of coaches student sport wouldn’t deliver the breadth or quality of opportunity that it does.

This introductory session brought together coaches from across the SSS membership. 11 different sports were represented on the call, demonstrating the diversity of experience available within the group. One of the key aims of the group is to allow coaches to learn different approaches, coaching methods and skills – having coaches from multiple sports has already proved beneficial to participants!

This opening session included a presentation on Clean Sport from Sarah Gandon, Player Development Manager at Netball Players Association and Netball Coach at the University of Glasgow. It was a vital reminder that coaches at any level hold some responsibility for educating athletes and ensuring they know what they are putting in their bodies.

We also gained insight on coaching young people from Andy Goldie, Academy Director at Dundee United. Andy talked us through the ‘Messy Middle’ in young players development journey, and we learned about the culture within one of Scotlands top youth academies. Andy praised the value of volunteering across a variety of sports and how that supported his own development.

There will be numerous sessions throughout the year as we look to provide support for all coaches within the Scottish Student Sport community. The next session on October 19th will look at Concussion and Mental Health. We’ll also offer the opportunity to participate in a mentoring programme for more experienced coaches to share insight and best practices with their less experienced counterparts.

If you would like to join the Coaching Network you can join our Basecamp group and get involved in the conversation by clicking HERE.

Miss the webinar? Re-watch all the action here! 💻 👇

 

 

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Wednesday 26th May 2021

We are now accepting nominations for the 2020/21 SSS Awards! This year we have revamped our awards line-up with six brand new awards up for grabs! Find out more here.

We are delighted to announce that the SSS 2020/21 Awards are officially open!

This year we are doing things a little bit differently. As opposed to our usual individual and club awards, this year our awards will be based on the SSS values! Given the unusual and challenging year that everyone has faced, we wanted to recognise the incredible work and many success stories across our sector and celebrate the amazing people involved in student sport in Scotland.

The awards will therefore be based on the SSS values and we are looking for nominations for the following categories: Ambitious, Collaborative, Inclusive, Innovative, Responsive, Sustainable, Honorary President’s Medal. An additional eight award, the Dr Rob Macpherson SSS Volunteer of the year award, will be selected by the SSS staff.

The Awards 

We are accepting nominations in the following categories:

  • Ambitious – Who is this aimed at? Unsung heroes – juggling multiple projects/things at once.
  • Collaborative – Who is this aimed at? Best online learning resource/best practice sharing, coaching and officiating,  Zoom webinars.
  • Inclusive – Who is it aimed at? An inclusion champion – someone who has made their sport more accessible and available to all.
  • Innovative – Who is it aimed at? Those who have been exceptionally innovative and creative – i.e using Zoom workouts, creating new podcasts, performance athlete finding new ways to train.
  • Responsive – Who is it aimed at? Examples of best practice in adapting to COVID, new ways of working and flexibility.
  • Sustainable – Who is it aimed at? Sustainability champions – people/groups that have incorporated sustainability into their clubs/work.

The above awards can be won by individuals or groups, so please feel free to submit nominations for both outstanding individuals and student sports clubs!

  • Honorary Presidents Medal – This award is for any individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to/lasting impact on student sport at a local, regional or national level. Nominees should be regarded as wonderful examples/ advocates of student sport and their behaviour should resonate with the above SSS values.
  • The final award is the Dr Rob Macpherson Award. This award differs slightly from the rest of our awards – there are no nominations, instead, the winner is selected by the SSS staff team as opposed to the Executive Committee. The award is aimed at any individual who has made an outstanding contribution to volunteering with Scottish Student Sport.

Check out our 2019/20 award winners here! 🏆

The Details

  • Nominations for each category should be a maximum of 500 words.
  • Institutions can nominate as many groups or individuals in any category as they like.
  • Only member institutions can nominate. All member institutions have been sent login details to the online portal where nominations should be submitted.
  • Nominations close on MONDAY 7th JUNE at 18:00 and winners will be announced in July as part of the SSS Month of Celebration.
  • Please contact Totty with any queries.
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Tuesday 27th April 2021

On Sunday 25th April, in the Glasgow sunshine, members of the SSS Tribe took part in the Jog Leaders training through SSS’ collaboration with Jog Scotland and Scottish Athletics.

The Leadership in Running Fitness course is delivered regularly by Jog Scotland and, through collaboration, individuals from SSS member institutions were able to participate at a discounted rate. The course comprises of a number of theory modules and a practical session, which in this instance was taken at Scotstoun in Glasgow. Having staff and students with this kind of qualification will allow institutions to be prepared to harness the increased interest in recreational running that we have seen over the past year.

jogscotland is Scotland’s recreational running network and is part of scottishathletics. It is made up of hundreds of jogging groups meeting in sports centres, community halls, parks and businesses, and jogging on their local paths, pavements and trails. The emphasis at every jogscotland group is on enjoying exercise and supporting one another in a friendly atmosphere. Groups are led by qualified Jog Leaders (mostly volunteers), who guide and inspire their members. Nobody is “too slow” to join jogscotland. Groups are available for walkers, joggers and runners of all levels, from complete beginners to long-distance runners.

Here’s what participants had to say:

I signed up because running is something that I enjoy and have an interest in. Having this training will help me to encourage and motivate others when I begin leading running groups in my local area with fellow students at New College Lanarkshire but also the wider community. The course was very informative and enjoyable, and the tutors on the day were fun and encouraging. Helping others to improve their fitness, health and wellbeing is important to me as an individual and as a student. 

Kellyann McGraith (HND Fitness, Health and Exercise @ New College Lanarkshire)

The course is ideal for us as it allows us to engage students at Glasgow in the new beginners jogging groups we are setting up.  We have noticed that our members are keen to exercise outdoors as much as possible and the social, physical and mental benefits of these activities is invaluable.

Calum Hill (Active Lifestyles Lead @ University of Glasgow)

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Monday 26th April 2021

Despite the lockdown, 18 students recently took the first steps in their basketball coaching career. In collaboration with Basketball Scotland, two ‘Make It Happen’ coaching courses were delivered, organised by the SSS Basketball Development Group.

The Make it Happen coaching course helps new coaches take their first steps on the coaching pathway. This can be attended by all students and is suitable for all ages and any level of basketball experience. The course offers that foundation level of coaching and no previous coaching experience is needed to complete the course.

The collaboration with Basketball Scotland meant student candidates were offered a reduced fee to participate, making it more accessible for more people. This key link with the governing body will allow the SS Basketball Development Group to deliver more courses for the student body. Going forward the group aims to deliver a minimum of one course per semester for all students. This will support those students who wish to take their coaching career further and work through the Basketball Scotland coaching pathway.

The course takes 3 hours so is perfect for those who are looking to test the coaching waters. By getting so many students through these courses it places students at the center of efforts to grow the game of basketball in universities and colleges, and in future roles with community clubs.

Chris Kindlen, Workforce lead for SS Basketball Development Group, said:

“The University & College community offers the perfect platform for developing as a coach, or indeed a table official or referee. This is the great opportunity to take advantage of easily accessible and affordable courses. Undertaking this type of training can lead to so many more opportunities. I did my coaching qualifications whilst at university and later got the opportunity to coach for country”

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Monday 29th March 2021

CASE STUDY | How Scottish Student Cycling kept students active, motivated and engaged during the cold, dark winter!

Spring has sprung – gone are the cold,dark winter nights. Replaced with longer, brighter and more hopeful days ahead.

The changing season is very much welcomed, with the easing of restrictions of the next couple of months proving a glistening light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst the winter months were a challenging time for all, there was plenty of golden nuggets of refreshing innovation within the student sporting world to look back on. This extract focuses on our Scottish Student Cycling community and how they spun a negative situation into a positive one.

With in-person, cycling events cancelled for the foreseeable future, the Scottish Student Cycling community led by SS Cycling Chair Aaron Johnson pulled together taking it in turns to host virtual rides, jumping from institution to institution to provide a virtual competitive offering and giving students the opportunity to keep active and motivated throughout the winter.

Scottish Student Cycling Chair, Aaron Johnson writes

Between November and March, 10 different university cycling clubs across Scotland, took on the responsibility of hosting weekly virtual cycling rides (meet-ups), with the support of SS Cycling. Meet-ups took place on the virtual cycling platform, ‘Zwift’. Each week, a different club would delegate a member who would be responsible for creating the meet-up, organising the route and sending invites to fellow students.

A total of 38 participants took part across the various meeting – engaging both current students and alumni members. The highest turnout saw 18 participants tackle one of the hilliest routes on Zwift and was hosted by RGU student, Jamie Chree.

Students were able to use these meet-ups as an opportunity to socialise and engage with clubs, something that has not been possible in-person this year, due to the Covid pandemic. A lot of students also used this an opportunity to fit in a workout, whilst still being able to ride with a group.

The overwhelming response from students and competitors was very postive. Speaking to SSS, Louise Smith (University of Stirling) said:

“I really enjoyed the whole experience! It was good to have a weekly session, knowing I was going to be on Zwift on a Tuesday evening. It was great to be able to chat with students from other universities too. It also helped to fill the hole, that the lack of group rides has left in my life.”

Aaron Blackwood (University of Aberdeen), enjoyed the social aspect of the meet-ups and believes the format has long term potential. He said:

“The SSS Zwift meet-ups gave me a great opportunity to get to know fellow cyclists from across Scotland, at a time where meeting up in person was not possible. The laid-back format with different universities hosting every week really helped to personalise the meet-ups rather than just having a single host picking the routes every time. Even after the pandemic is over I could still see the benefits of running similar events!”

Honourable mentions go to Aaron Blackwood (University of Aberdeen), for never missing a meet-up and even hosting one himself.

Well done to all the students and institutions who took part in meet-ups! Going forward the Scottish Student Cycling team are hoping to build on the momentum gained from the winter events and provide an even better event offering for the 2021/22 season and beyond!

 

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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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Wednesday 9th December 2020

“Being part of a sports club is more than just participating.” That is the message from the SSS and now BUCS Club of the Year – the Edinburgh University Haries. In the latest BiteSSSize Best Practice webinar, they share their success story alongside Scottish Athletics’ National Club Manager Francis Smith to discuss what a successful club looks like and what support is available.

The University of Edinburgh Haries has had a very successful year. In the Summer they picked up the SSS Club of the Year award, before adding the BUCS Club of the Year title to their ever-growing trophy cabinet in December.

It was clear to see why in the latest BiteSSSize Best Practice Webinar in which the Haries shared their success story on what makes a successful club.  Matt Daley (Men’s Captain) and Ella Revitt (Female Captain) talked us through their approach to training, engagement, socials and performance. Student membership has increased this year and over 150 first years were engaged through introductory 5km runs during welcome week. This has been followed up by making training sessions more sociable while still adhering to guidelines set out by Scottish Athletics.

Sustainability is engrained in the club through a policy of Student Coaches. These older students support the development of younger participants and help the transition of club values. Ella and Matt also gave great advice on how their club has engaged students during the past few challenging months and what they hope to achieve going into 2021.

Scottish Athletics’ National Club Manager Francis Smith gave oversight on how a governing body works with student clubs and the type of support available. Scottish Athletics has a development framework and a number of projects available to student clubs. He also highlighted the network of support through better relationships between student and community clubs.

The discussions celebrated the important role that student sports clubs have played this year. With the underlying message that being part of a club is much more than just taking part in sport. The community spirit generated within clubs can support students with their physical and mental health, by providing vital social interaction.

🎥Watch the full webinar here🎥

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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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