Elections 2017

Brig talks to Sports President candidate Alex Duke

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Source: Facebook

The best part about being an adult (at least for me anyway) is having the choice not to participate in physical activity. It sounds incredibly ignorant, but being the couch potato that I am, I didn’t fully understand the importance of the Sports Union. After interviewing Alex Duke, who is running for Sports President this year, he helped to clarify the role of and why we need the Sports Union.

Alex gave me a very thorough answer when asked about the responsibilities of the Sports President and why he feels he is the right candidate for the job.

He said: “The role of the Sports President is to represent the students who are part of the Sports Union, whether that be within the university, whether that’s within Scotland or in a British or even further worldwide level. We have an incredible sports department here, we were obviously the University for Sporting Excellence, so it’s a huge role and we really want to continue to expand Stirling’s name. And also in other

“We have an incredible sports department here, we were obviously the University for Sporting Excellence, so it’s a huge role and we really want to continue to expand Stirling’s name. And in other issues, it’s got to be someone that represents the views of the students fairly, they can’t be biased towards certain clubs, it’s got to be a whole sports union sort of package.

“At the moment the biggest issues are coming up that need a huge amount of representation are obviously the redevelopment to the sports facilities, kit and participation levels. A lot of clubs want to increase the numbers playing for them, which is very logical and I feel that I cover these points in my manifesto. The way I come up with that is what I think are the most pressing issues, and actually talking to people, actually speaking to the clubs that maybe aren’t getting extra wall space and aren’t getting extra artificial pitches and they’re pretty annoyed that their views currently aren’t being listened to, the plans are still in the development stage,

“The way I come up with that is what I think are the most pressing issues, and actually talking to people; actually speaking to the clubs that maybe aren’t getting extra wall space, and aren’t getting extra artificial pitches and they’re pretty annoyed that their views currently aren’t being listened to. The plans are still in the development stage, nothing’s set in stone so the role has to be there to represent what these clubs need.”

Alex admitted that in his first year he was no Tiger Woods when it came to golf. He tells me that “my golf  wasn’t in a good place when I first came to uni, and I was playing poorly for a little a while. I wasn’t really enjoying the game but I joined the club and it’s not an exaggeration for me when I say that it has changed my life. It changed my whole university experience and it’s been my life for four years. The way it’s all fallen into place, it’s nice to look back on and it has been a natural progression.

“It changed my whole university experience and it’s been my life for four years. The way it’s all fallen into place; it’s nice to look back on and it has been a natural progression.

“There are some people that come here for the sole purpose of becoming Sports President, but if I said that’s what I wanted to do in my first year I’d be lying. It’s come about since I’ve been given the opportunity  by the club I was part of to grow myself and I feel I have grown as a person. I’d say it’s something I had my eye on since the start of fourth year, since I became president I feel like it’s something I’m passionate about. If I could imagine myself in this position at the start of uni I definitely could not. Mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so it’s all fallen into place.”

“I’d say it’s something I had my eye on since the start of fourth year – since I became Golf President – I feel like it’s something I’m passionate about. If I tried to imagine myself in this position at the start of uni, I definitely could not. Mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so it’s all fallen into place.”

One point in his manifesto that Alex is clearly passionate about is increasing the sports union membership to 20%. He informs me that, “at the moment we have a lot of clubs that are turning members away because training times don’t work. On Tuesday morning I was in at 7.30am in the morning for men’s basketball second team, and I was in uni for 15 hours to talk to their first team, which finished training at ten at night. If you’re told when you’re coming to the uni for a sport you play and you have to be at uni for 7.30 and you don’t really know the set up, it’s not the greatest incentive.”

“If you’re told when you’re coming to the uni for a sport you play and you have to be at uni for 7.30am and you don’t really know the set-up, it’s not the greatest incentive.

“On presidential forums, clubs like badminton say they’ve turned away 30 people this year. I’d say the majority of clubs feel like they’ve lost ten members plus because of training times. We need to really reassess and reallocate and look at how this is done. I think it’s great that Matt, who’s running for VP Education, said about working with the Sports Union to be able to get those better training times.”

He adds: “Events the Stir 5k a Day got a lot of people involved, and the festive run, which I was at the start of December, there was so many people there and a lot of them didn’t play sports. That’s a great way to introduce them to new people who are involved in sports.” It seems like he is keen to continue and encourage people to attend these events if he is elected.

Moving on to the redevelopment of sports facilities, Alex shares his views on the matter: “If we don’t get it now like I’ve said on the campaign trail, we might not get this for another ten, 20, 30 plus years. The Gannochy and the sports hall haven’t really been done up much since the university was founded 50 years ago. So it’s long overdue and if we’re going to do it, we might as well do it right. Make it for what we actually need for now and the future, there’s no point building something that’s great for now but doesn’t allow for the expansion we’re going to get because people come here for sport and we’ve got to represent what they need.”

“So, it’s long overdue, and if we’re going to do it we might as well do it right. Make it for what we actually need for now and the future, there’s no point building something that’s great for now, but doesn’t allow for the expansion we’re going to get because people come here for sport and we’ve got to represent what they need.”

Covering another manifesto point, Alex tells me about one he believes to be “the most ambitious.”

He said: ” I want to get as close to all 53 clubs under one kit deal. Bearing in mind that’s going to be difficult for health and safety, and we do have so many different sports so it won’t be easy catering for everyone. I want to meet with every president to understand what their needs are, so when we go looking for this new kit deal when I (hopefully) start this job in June, I’m equipped and I know exactly what everyone needs. If we’re all united and we we’re going to say to a sponsor we’ve got 53 clubs that we’re working instead 20 then naturally the deal is going to be better. There’s going to be more interest in wanting to be a partner with the University of Stirling.”

“If we’re all united and we’re going to say to a sponsor, ‘We’ve got 53 clubs that we’re working with instead 20,’ then naturally the deal is going to be better. There’s going to be more interest in wanting to be a partner with the University of Stirling.”

I was interested to find out what a potential sports president would be able to do to deal with lad culture. Alex explains that “lad culture is difficult. There’ve been a few incidents that have happened over the past few years, and it’s a shame because we’ve done so many good things as a university, but it’s always the one thing that goes bad that’s going to attract the headlines.

“Everyone is always in the spot light, period. You can’t have a day off. I feel like we’re in a better position now to challenge it. So incidents that have happened, I’m not going to point to any specific incident, but I feel if an incident like that happened now – if an incident like that was possibly bubbling up – I feel like members of clubs are in a better position to challenge it, and that’s through education.

“We’ll continue to educate clubs on what is and what isn’t acceptable and just remind them they’re always in the spotlight.”

 

Regardless of what position someone runs for in the Students’ Union election, the campaigns seem like a very stressful and time consuming task. Alex didn’t come across as hesitant or nervous throughout the interview. When I asked at the end how his campaign was going he informed me that it was “busy”. This is the first time I’d met Alex, but basing it on this encounter alone he does seem like a chilled-out person.

Voting opens at 9am on Monday March 13, and closes at 6.15pm on Tuesday March 14. Brig will of course be the first to provide the results, so keep your eyes peeled.

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