We chatted with your VP Sport, Eilidh Sneddon, about what is involved in her role, how she listens to student concerns, her advice for students running next year and her reflections on 2020. Read the full interview below!
Can you describe what you do in your role as VP Sport?
It does what it says on the tin! I look after all things sporting but I also do a bit more than that. I sit on quite a few University committees to do with education some to do with sport and then just generally I look after a Club development, participation in sport and generally trying to get as many people active and engaged as possible.
Did you have any fears about running for the role, and if so, how did you overcome them?
I worried for quite a bit about whether I was the right fit for the role, or whether you know, the campaign would be a bit too much to take on but overall I just put my name in for it. I struggled knowing whether I was the right fit for the role, or whether I had enough confidence to carry off the campaign. And I knew the hustings who's going to be a big scary one for me personally, but I'm a bit of preparation, a bit of support from my friends really helped me along and I also just spoke to my predecessor Maddy and a few kind words and a bit of enthusiasm, help me run it.
What is your motivation to do this role as VP Sport?
I've been involved in Clubs sports since the beginning. My University career would not be the same if it wasn't for sport. Coming in as a Fresher, I became part of a massive hockey family and it wouldn't be the same if I wasn't spending hours volunteering and playing sport every Wednesday and you know, cutting my deadline done to the fine hours so that I could manage to play that match, to go on that night, to live the whole sports experience. Also bigger than that I really thought I could do a lot of work of liberation in sport. I felt like the Sports Union had a long way to come in terms of making itself accessible to so many different communities, be that LGBT or disability sport. I just thought I was the right fit for overcoming those barriers.
Can you tell us one thing people might not know about you?
Let's think... What do people not know about me... I really struggle with ice breakers every time haha erm something people don't know about me.... They all come across as a bit like, ooh. Don't know if it's lame to be like I'm an artsy-ish person. I don't know to go down that route... Yeah, I'm an avid painter. When I'm not on the pitch, I love getting a set of acrylics out, and, yeah. I paint people, abstract paintings. They're a bit rubbish but they really helped me relax erm yeah. I was big into like yeah, I did like higher art and stuff, but at the same time, like I wasn't great and tended to do kind of wacky stuff. I was really into like abstract pieces people ripping their faces off or like organs exposed was really weird stuff, but did enjoy it yeah.
How do you hear about student issues?
I make a point of trying to put up polls and interactive question boxes, a lot of things on my social media. But beyond that I've been hosting student forums and I hosted one on LGBT participation in sport. It was really good way to see what people were struggling with, and just give an open platform for students to talk to me on their issues.
What are some of the key issues students asked you to deal with this year?
So coming off of the back of that forum, a lot of students said that they struggled with sessions that we're particularly advertise to LGBT individuals and they felt that that was quite a big barrier, quite a scary thing to have to come and you know, students felt that clearly labeled LGBT sessions were causing a bit more trouble than actually helping break down that barrier.
Many students felt it was quite scary to after call back to staff members to say, I would like to attend the sessions and so this year, we've been working on trying to break down that barrier and trying to make all sports as accessible across the board, rather than targeting specific sessions. I also worked on producing training for our committees, so that they knew how to make their sessions more accessible. I'm starting this releases campaign as of today and it's really quite exciting for us. We're going to be putting through about 50 student volunteers through training in inclusive sport, so that it's across the board, rather than a few individuals that are really clued up it's better to have an entire inclusive atmosphere in sport.
What is your process for handling student issues?
Quite often, a lot my remit and a lot of my time is spent with dealing with problems that arise as they come up. We all know that sports Clubs, some are very organised but some are a little less so. So what I tend to do is I'll take these issues that arise, usually I am fairly good at knowing who to directions to for someone who's got the best expertise. Often see for instance, for example Stepps is shut because it's a bank holiday and a Club Captain maybe didn't know, I help support them in conveying this message to their Club committees.
I also try and look and see if this problem occurs across the board. I worked really closely with the rest of Sports Union team and I really wouldn't be able to do my job without them, each member of staff has their own expertise as well as their own skill set beyond that. Whether that's Abby knowing lots about participation and development sport, but also being incredible at Instagram. You know, everyone's got their own skills and good sets that I leaned on. So, generally speaking, my Sports Union team, but then if it's a waiter student problem, I tend to lean on my Student Exec they're my rock. It's great to work with them Then more sports specific, if I'm after a bit of insight from students for the Sports Exec all ten of them are cracking hard workers, they're all volunteers and they definitely do step up to the mark.
What do you hope that you are achieving for students?
I hope that I do my job by doing my job, I'm trying to make sport as accessible for more than just the keen beans. I hope that sport is accessible for everyone. If I do my job right, sport shouldn't just be for the sporty types. Everyone should be being active and everyone should be involved and included and hopefully if I do my job to its best ability, that's what I achieve.
So what are you looking forward to in 2021?
Next year in 2021, I definitely will be going in with a lot of lessons learned. We're planning on just taking every opportunity, we're never going to take anything for granted anymore if that's us realising that tennis have a free court and they can actually play sport within their remit, that's great. So why would we not get everyone playing tennis?
If your boxing sessions cancelled, we hope to see you out doing something different and just getting that opportunity to get involved and do some sport. Specific things that I'm looking forward to... Next semester, I've got a big disability campaign. Inclusion of disability and sport, that's including putting so many coaches through our disability inclusion training so that they can learn how to adapt their coaching sessions for anyone that comes in the door. Another big one for me next semester is we're going to be starting next semester with a big Welcome Back preseason event! This is all of us coming from not doing sport for a couple weeks, eating our fair share of mince pies of the Christmas period and we're all coming back and getting fit again. So this is going to be a joint Sports Union pre-season. This is the first time we've ever done this and it will mean that every single person, whether you're new to the Sports Union, whether you're from the football Club or the rowing Club, we're all going to be coming together. To get involved, get active, hopefully get a couple of S&C coaches from Strathclyde Sport involved, some of the fitness team and we're all going to work together to try and develop a joint program, which also has a nice positive social environment. At the moment you're not getting to see many people in a social setting, so why not meet them through sport? So that's what we're looking forward to in January.
Any New Year's resolutions?
I'm not a big one for New Year's resolutions, but this year. Get things done. I want to smash out of the park for my remaining time in the job. I don't want to be the Sports President without sport. You've seen all my videos complaining, but no more. Get things done. Get my stamp on the Sports Union. Personally yeah, have a big list of achievements for you.
What is one positive thing from 2020 that you will carry into 2021?
2020 is seen some of the most like creative thinking from all of our sports Clubs. I've been blown away and if I can take this positivity and just, adaptable determination to get involved, I would just love to carry that through into next year. Not just rest on our laurels and do what we've always done and I would just like, for future years, for us to continue to look for anything we possibly can do and just get everyone involved. I really like that continue.
What would you like to say to students who are running this year?
I think the best thing you can do to take advantage of University experience is to get involved. You're never too inexperienced, you're a student, you have the views and opinions of a student, you are a student representative, you've got the ability to do that, like, by definition. Whether you're getting involved in the Sports Exec, but you've never been on a Club Committee, it doesn't matter. Whether you'd like to run for Sports President and, you know, you're just a regular tennis member like there's so much opportunity. You don't have to be the biggest name on campus. I mean, it helps.. haha but you can be any background, you just have such a good opportunity, why not throw your name in!
What is your hope for the future of Strath Union?
I think the best things you can do is to catch up to the times and I think a good Strath Union will always just represent the students, but if it can be as accessible to anyone that would be incredible. Like, we want every student to be represented in Strath Union and that would be an ideal future, is for everyone to feel like their voices heard. For everyone to feel welcome.
Huge thanks to Eilidh for taking the time to talk to us!
Make sure you check out what your VP Sport has been up to with your Friday Student Exec Updates on our Socials Channels!