If you think there isn’t a sport or activity for you at Goldsmiths, think again. Frisbee, rock climbing, cheerleading, combat sports, snowboarding – the list is long. And if your sport isn’t represented, you can set up your own club. Tolu is Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s Sports Development Coordinator. With a background in competitive sport and coaching at uni, Tolu is perfectly placed to head up the support and development of sports clubs and their leaders at Goldsmiths. Tolu talks to us about her ambitious plans to develop sports provision at Goldsmiths and the many (many!) benefits of getting involved in sport at uni.
Tell me about your role at the Students’ Union
I look after the competitive and recreational sports clubs within the Students’ Union. I am responsible for organising the different sports teams which involves training committee members, sorting out their fixtures, and competitions, managing their budgets – the list is pretty long! I work very closely with the sports captains and presidents to ensure they are able to lead and inspire their members who compete for the University or are social members. The role has grown a lot over the past 2 years so I am also now focussed on developing the standards within each club. The Activities team also help students start new clubs which are not on our current program.
Two years ago I launched the Talented Athlete Programme. Smaller universities like ours, where sport is not a big part of the general culture, sometimes don’t have the provision to support students taking part in sports at a high level. We offer students a bursary, discounted membership at the gym and reasonable flexibility within their course for example if they need to travel or take time out to train or compete. We award it to one or two students each year, currently Ben Urban who is in the GB Judo team is the recipient.
How did you become interested in sports?
I’ve always loved sports particularly basketball and tennis and at uni I studied Sports Science. I played National League basketball Division 1 and was Captain of my university team for 2 years. I got the opportunity to travel around the country and played in basketball camps in Europe and America which was a lot of fun. Whilst at university I was able to get coaching qualifications in various sports which gave me a nice income while I was studying. Sports is a great way to keep fit, meet lots of people and have fun!
What kinds of activities can students get involved in?
The range of activities has grown since I started the role and students can start new clubs if their sport isn’t represented. We’ve had three new clubs start this year – rock climbing, boxing and ultimate frisbee. Last year, Georgina, the current Sports Officer started the Taekwondo Club and it is going from strength to strength. Team members have won medals in National competitions and last weekend they hosted a regional Fight Camp with over 90 students attending.
All clubs and societies in the Union are student led so as staff we do our best to provide the opportunities and resources but essentially our emphasis is on the importance of having strong committees – Our motto is
“To Inspire and empower students to change the world”
and we really do centre everything we do around this. Students can get involved in a whole range of activities from competitive and recreational sports like football, basketball and volleyball to taekwondo, rock climbing and yoga – there’s something for everyone! Our combat sports have grown massively in the past 2 years. There are also opportunities to get involved in seasonal sports like skiing and snowboarding – in winter, there are trips abroad and the rest of the year they practice on dry slopes.
Why should students get involved?
It’s a great way to meet new people and for students to have an outlet from their academic studies. Physical fitness has a huge benefit on your overall wellbeing which is obviously really important while juggling life as a student. They can also meet people from other universities, travel and if elected by their team – become committee members – Presidents, Captains and Vice-Captains roles can be recorded on their HEAR.
How can students use this experience in the future?
Getting involved in sports shows students generally develop a higher sense of self-confidence, motivation and resilience having taken part in different types of activities.
Governing bodies of sport have different levels of funding, some students have used these avenues to seek after additional funding for their clubs. The Annual Fund over the past few years has given several grants to sports clubs which has really helped with activities they’ve wanted to do and provided essential resources. The process of finding and applying for grants – the research involved, and making applications are great skills to develop.
BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport), the organising governing body for university sport has done a lot research into the employability of students taking part in sports. They’ve found that students involved in sport
“were more likely to be employed in graduate jobs with comparatively higher salaries”
and employers often look for students who had
“ leadership positions, organizational roles and other positions of responsibility within sports clubs and societies were particularly beneficial in providing ‘added value’ for graduate employability.”
What projects have you been working on?
I am also working on improving the facility at Loring Sports Ground where our men’s and women’s football & rugby teams play their matches. It’s in a pretty bad state, we could potentially have some of them promoted next season so I am working with the university to hopefully have some work done over the summer.
I launched the Sports Ambassador programme officially last year. It’s a scheme which gives students the opportunity to become an ambassador for their sports club and in most cases receive a bursary. The Sports Ambassador acts as the link between the sport’s governing body, myself and the Captain of the club. Their main purpose of the role is to raise awareness of the sport on campus and increase recreational participation by putting on various activities throughout the year. This year we have sports ambassadors for Tennis and Volleyball with grants coming in from the LTA and Volleyball England.
What would you tell your 18 year old self when starting uni?
You know, I had a great experience at university I was totally engaged in student life – sports & societies, I sat on university committees, I volunteered, mentored so there’s nothing I would tell myself – maybe go to lectures and the library more! But what I would say to students starting uni is just get involved and join in! I only knew 2 people when I started university. Being a part of a club or society is such a great and easy way to meet new people, you could pretty much spend 3 or 4 years with the same group of people and develop life-long friendships.
Take a look at the full list of sports clubs in Goldsmiths Students’ Union and the activities you can record on your HEAR.