Katie Lightowler



06 August 2014 12:00


Hi all, my name is Katie, your new VP Sports Development! This blog is an update on my first month to keep you all in the loop of what’s going on within SUSU and the Southampton sports world.

First few weeks
The first two weeks of my time in office were spent at conferences. The first was the Students Unions 2014 conference in Bolton and the second was the National BUCS Conference (British University and Colleges Sport). Both of these weeks were great for establishing contacts and learning new and different practices from other universities. BUCS Conference in particular, gave me plenty of fresh ideas as well, the ability to find out more about how Southampton has worked in the past from an outside perspective, the major differences between us and other British Institutions, and where we can improve.

BUCS Conference Passes!

BUCS Conference Passes!

Little bit of background…
So…a bit of background for you all that I have found out from my past years at Southampton and from other Institutions present at BUCS Conference. A few years ago, University of Southampton Sport took a hit during the recession. Many of the sports courses offered were taken off the curriculum: Sports Management, Sports Science…. we do still have an incredibly good Performance Sport Engineering Department, but sport itself was no longer considered of importance in an academic sense. The management in Sport and Wellbeing was also changed. Speaking with other large institutions at BUCS conference this week, it was clear that these decisions sent shockwaves for University Sport around the country. Reflecting on this change, I can understand the reasons why it was done. Southampton sport did not have the ability to argue its case. The research was not yet established which proved that sport was important. It was an ‘added extra’ if you like, something that was great to have, but not proven necessary.

BUCS Research
The talks that BUCS put on at the Conference signposted the new research they had commissioned into the impact that sport has on graduate employability. They found that:
• Graduates (5,838 questioned) who participated in sport at University, earn an average £5,824 (18%) more per year than non-sporting counterparts
• 51% of graduates stated that sporting involvement has helped them develop teamwork and leadership qualities in the workplace.
• 27% of graduates who did not play sport experience unemployment at some point in their career, in comparison with 21% of those that did.
• 94% of 112 of the UK’s top blue-chip graduate employers took part in the study identified a clear link between the skills they value in the workplace and university sport participation.

You can take a look at the video they produced talking about the research here and links to the actual research from the BUCS page here.

How does this help?
This research is helpful for us. There are plenty of problems that we have at our University to do with sport (storage, space, transport…to name a few). These are problems that have not been tackled as quickly and efficiently as they could have been since management changed and sport courses were taken off the curriculum. Some of these problems can be solved if the right investment goes into them and if sport participants have the ability to say exactly why it is important to change them. They are issues that impact everyone who is interested in keeping fit and healthy. Not just those who play AU or Intra-Mural sport but also recreational users of our facilities.

As a result of this, one of my biggest goals this year is going to be raising sport on the University agenda. I fully believe that the University of Southampton has the ability to be really great at sport, both in terms of performance of our teams and providing a valuable and quality experience for all those who wish to participate. However, I do not believe that it will happen until we begin to speak out for ourselves and tell the University why sport should be a priority.

So – how am I going to start doing that?
• BUCS Sports Development team are visiting later this month accompanied by some Directors of Sport from across the country to help advise on our sporting structure and give experience from other Universities about a pathway to prioritizing sport. This visit is hopefully the first of a few as we set about trying to get sport on the University agenda.
• I am currently in discussions with Sport and Wellbeing to gain more space and storage options for AU clubs in our facilities. This is going to be difficult owing to the current restraints that exist on our facilities but there is certainly space available.
• We have done a small amount of research so far, benchmarking against other Universities in sport – this is set to continue throughout the year and will add weight to the case of the major issues we face.
• There will be a Sports Survey sent out in the near future to assess our travel and injury rehabilitation needs, as well as looking at an overview of the areas that people view as most problematic for sport. The stats we gain from this will help when applying for funding to help solve these issues.


John Inverdale (President of BUCS and Uni of Southampton Alumni) and Alex Clayton. Alex was awarded the Chris Potter Award for his volunteer work with Road Cycling!

Kick-starting some of my other goals:
• Funding and block bookings. Funding applications opened on 31st July. Club Presidents will be applying for funding during August. Deadline is on 31st August and funding will be given out shortly after that date. For block bookings we are sorting out the system at the moment and guidelines will be going out in the next few days.
• Focus Sports. We are looking at revamping the program and expanding it. Jack Beckett, our Club Development Officer, is helping me with this at the moment.
• Intra-Mural has just been taken on by SUSU from Sport and Wellbeing. We have just purchased all the new kit (footballs, basketballs, netballs etc) and are in the process of sorting out leagues and proper advertising for September. We have appointed a new Intra-Mural Assistant, who will be starting shortly!
• Team Southampton: new kit is being organised for clubs that have not yet had kit. If your club has not yet got Team Southampton kit please ask your President to contact me. Online shop for new kit will also be going up during August. This has been delayed due to the handover process between myself and Evan (apologies!).
• AU Nights: Lewis Kelly (AU Social Officer) and I have been chatting about creating more of a sporting community. This started with Team Southampton kit and I want it to continue. There will be 6 ‘AU Nights’ during the year where we will be encouraging teams and sports people to join us in a variety of night clubs. These will act as mini-fundraisers for teams as we will give out tickets for clubs to sell to their own members.
• Alumni connections: I am starting to connect with the Alumni department at the University. There is a large base of experience there which we can begin to tap into and use to its full potential.
• Varsity – the date has pretty much been set (to be released in the near future!) and I am meeting the new Portsmouth VP Sports in a few weeks to start organising the biggest event of the year, held in Portsmouth this year! Ben Flett, your Varsity officer, will be helping on this.
• Charity partner: the official charity partner for BUCS this year and next is Marie Curie. Their aim is to raise enough money to fund a Rugby team of nurses. It cost £19000 to fund one nurse and we will be taking part in the ‘Marie Curie Champions League’ they have started to raise as much as possible. I will be beginning to start this process but I would like this to be something YOU drive so please contact me if you would like to fundraise for this great cause.



There are a few other things going on but I will not make this blog go on any longer! It has been a great first month and I am really looking forward to the rest of the year.

Over and out,


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