Friday 18th June 2021

SSS Conference 2021 | The Warm Down

In case you missed it! Read all about the highlights from the SSS Conference 2021! Including photos, videos, key themes and more…

Proudly sponsored by PRECOR, we were delighted to bring together over 80 attendees from 18 different institutions in Scotland for the return of the SSS Conference!

After last years SSS Conference was sadly cancelled due to COVID – there was increased appetite and anticipation heading into this years event – with many guests and attendees experiencing SSS Conference for the first time.

Having said that, the whole experience was a totally new phenomenon for everyone with it being the first Conference delivered virtually. Over an action-packed two days, we connected members, friends, institutions and partners across the country for a celebration of student sport.

Despite being held remotely, we were determined to ensure SSS Conference would be an ‘Always Active’ Conference. Due to the nature of working from home and staring at screens for long periods of time we recognised the need to ensure our attendees kept active and engaged in between and even during sessions. Standing desks were encouraged wherever possible, sessions were delivered via podcast with attendees encouraged to listen along whilst ‘on the move’, active challenges featured heavily (more on that later), and as always, traditional ‘SSS Standing Ovations’ were observed throughout to welcome and thank our guests.

Sustainability was another key emerging theme from the conference. Speakers, discussion and conversations often routed back to the importance of sustainability and the need to look after our planet in every way we can. In advance of the conference, we partnered with Trees For Life and purchased a grove in the Scottish Highlands. For every attendee/speaker/contributor that signed up to this year’s conference we planted a tree – that means there are 110 new trees in the Scottish Highlands thanks to you! We plan to continue planting trees for each milestone we reach, whether that be each time a new staff member joins our team, to welcome them aboard, or for Conference attendees in years to come.

Day 1

To kick things off, our attendees were met with a welcome video – introducing a few members of the incoming sabbatical line-up and a few of our SSS staff – representing some brand new stash… 👀

 

After a brief introduction from Chief Operating Officer Stew Fowlie, Professor Damian Hughes got the ball rolling with a sensational opening keynote session. Damian is well known for his role co-hosting the High-Performance Podcast and he included insight and analysis from a number of guests he had interviewed. Damian spoke about creating a high-performance culture and the importance of having a set of “non-negotiable” behaviours to create a culture within a team. Throughout the session, there was plenty of opportunities to engage with Damian, with quizzes, interactive challenges and a Q&A segment at the end. It is safe to say Damian set the tone of inspiration and innovation to follow.

SSS Team photo with our keynote speaker Damian Hughes!

From one podcast to another – following Damian’s session, attendees were then encouraged to get outside and tune into our next session on the move – listening to Stew Fowlie and Gavin Rittoo host a special Conference addition of the #SSSPOD. The episode included an in-depth preview of the Conference and an exclusive interview with our brand-new team wear provider.

The afternoon session focused on active living, engaging students and developing active lifestyles. A highly informative and engaging panel was led by Kim Atkinson from Scottish Sports Association (SSA). Kim was joined by Andy Mytom and Ross Cunningham who brought professional expertise in the areas of design and communications respectively. As we begin the recovery from the pandemic it is imperative to be responsive to new demands from the student community about how they engage with, and enjoy, sport and physical activity.

Following the discussion, delegates were given the opportunity to give their input on the conversation and discuss key themes through the use of breakout rooms on zoom. Before Iona Grant & Hana Nasser from the Edinburgh University Women’s Hockey Club, took to the stage to share their story of what they did to look after their member’s mental health during the pandemic.

To close day 1, we were treated to a mouthwatering clash in the ring… Our own SSS Regional Development Coordinator, Neil Rankin, laced up his gloves for a 1v1 with Scotland’s first female Boxing World Champion – Hannah Rankin. Rather than throwing punches however, Neil was throwing questions to the professional sportswoman who shared some of the highs and lows of her journey in sport so far. The discussion ranged from the introductions to combat sports, the pressures of being a woman in sport to the challenges of balancing becoming World Champion and a classical music degree! Hannah challenged delegates to showcase more women’s sport and create role models within their clubs and institutions to inspire the next generation. A great way to round off day 1!

Hannah Rankin gives guest a glimpse of her World Champion Belt!

Day 2

Happy Birthday to y̶o̶u̶  Scottish Student Sport! 🎉🎉🎉

To mark our 10 Year Celebration of Scottish Student Sport we invited everyone to get involved with our #TimeForTen Active Challenge.

The #TimeforTen challenge got people across the country moving to the theme of 10. Whether it was walking, running, cycling, skipping, circuit training or in some cases, even swimming – it was fantastic to see so many people join in with the challenge across our social channels!

Members and friends of the network take part in the #TimeForTen Active Challenge.

Everyone who participated in the challenge was encouraged to listen along to our second special episode of the #SSSPOD. On this episode Stew and Gav were joined by members of the SSS community past and present for a trip down memory lane, celebrating our best bits!

🎙️ You can download the episode here!

After a quick shower and change, we were back on Zoom to digest a trilogy of Best Practice. Sarah Gandon kicked things off with some key updates on Healthy Body Healthy Mind which has seen the following achievements over the past year:

✅ University of the Highlands and Islands – Training Towards

🥉 Fife College and University of Glasgow – Bronze Award

Presentations of best practice were made by Kirsten Mullen (Fife College) and Shereif McGregor-Kholeif (University of Glasgow) demonstrating the ambition of each institution to engage with the project. Professor Moira Lafferty followed this with some key updates on the CHANGES project and how this can be delivered virtually to clubs ahead of returning to sport in September. The final part of the session was an inspirational presentation delivered by Sam Winton, founder of Here for Sport – a social enterprise focussed on creating more inclusive communities through sport.

After lunch, delegates were treated to a fantastic panel led by Pam Dewar from sportscotland in conversation with Mel Young and Dougie Samuel. This explored the trio’s involvement in the sport for social change movement, with Mel being the co-founder of the Homeless World Cup and Dougie the current CEO at Spartans Community Football Academy. Collaboration was a key theme in this discussion and with hundreds of sports clubs as part of the SSS community, there is great potential and opportunity to link with community clubs and deliver a bigger social impact. Breakout sessions were then led by participants from sportscotland’s Changing Lives programme, exploring themes of inclusion and purpose!

To finish, no SSS Conference is the same without an inspirational closing keynote, and this year delegates were treated to a Q&A from Craig Burn. Craig has enjoyed a diverse career in sport that has landed him in the role of Director of Strategy, Policy and Impacts for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, which takes place in Scotland. Craig gave us an insight into the challenges and opportunities he’s faced throughout his career and left us excited about future volunteering opportunities with the world championships. In conversation with Stew Fowlie, Craig spoke openly about the need to design sustainability into the delivery of the Championships and how they are working to reduce the carbon footprint of such a huge sporting event.

Thank You

A huge thanks to all our guests, attendees, speakers and contributors for their inspirational and motivational input throughout! The event was a welcome reminder as to how much hard work goes on behind the scenes, up and down the country to ensure that the overall student experience is enhanced through sport and physical activity.

Shout-out to all our SGB partners that attended the event and to Dave Swiss and the team at Precor for their unrivalled support – sponsoring EVERY Conference since 2006!

Finally, well done to all out outgoing sabbatical officers that are leaving this year – you have all done a tremendous job in an unprecedented year. Best of luck for your future endeavours and we hope to keep as many of you in the sporting bubble as possible.

Here is to next year and brighter times ahead!

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