October 08, 2005

Warwick Sport

I did promise myself I wouldn't use this blog to winge, but I want to see what people think about this brand new shiny warwick sport. I couldn't seem to find any recent discussion of it on the blogs.

I run the gliding club this year and did so last year. We are technically a sports club and so fall under the control of the Sports Federation and now Warwick Sport. Despite this we are not a typical sports club, i.e I don't think we've ever been to score and most of our members come on our trips only once or twice through the year.

The thing about Warwick Sport that most people outside of sports seem to be complaining about is the membership fee which is now £30 rather than the old Sports Federation's £15. The increase is supposedly to pay for the sports centre facilities and to go to the club's budgets which were apparently being underfunded in previous years. It's true, our budget has gone up by 50% on last year and we are using this to subsidise the flying of our members so the saving is passed on.

On the other hand, we don't use the sports centre. We dont need a gym, sports health support or anything like that. We especially don't need the swimming pool for gliding, unless we wanted to attempt a water landing or something I guess. So I not sure why we are paying for this.

Personally I can cope with the student membership fee increase to £30, but I have slightly more problem with the associate membership fee, which has risen from around £45 or something last year to £130. Their argument for this goes along the lines of 'we want all the funding to benefit students only and not pay for people who arn't part of the university'. This is a fair argument in theory, until you look at clubs like us (I'd guess that it applies to quite a few others aswell).

It takes quite a few years to get into gliding. Flying is not like playing football or swimming which most people can do, at least vaguely, when they start uni. So all of our more enthusiastic members are usually in their last year. These are people who run the trips, are on the exec and organise everything. It's not exactly simple running trips to the airfield, its quite a hazerdous place with lots going on and no amount of union risk assesments, impact courses or other assorted paperwork will stand in for a trip leader who knows what they are doing. This year all these sort of people have graduated, leaving me to run the club by myself. Being nice people, they are willing to drive all the way from wherever they are in the country, run trips for the club and help out organising things. So now, we repay their dedication to helping the new student members by trying to charge them £130 for the privelidge of helping run things. Does this seem wrong to anyone else?

To be fair, Zain, the new sports officer has been trying to find a way around this because he agrees I can't run the club by myself and the student members will suffer from the charge. He seems to be taking quite a long time to sort this out though and in theory, he is the head of the Sports Federation. He is a sabatical officer and should have a lot of control over the students union sports organisations. I don't know this for sure, but I just get the feeling that he doesn't actually have the same power now that Warwick Sport is under joint control of the university and the student's union. Have we sold off our sports federation?

Another more minor annoyance is that Lisa, the sports administrator and all the sports clubs admin is now in the sports centre, but yet the union computer systems, club pigeon holes and Zain, the sports officer are still in Union North. I have spent much of the past few weeks walking between the two buildings.

I have heard from a few people that the overall memberships are significantly down from previous years. Our's is a little less than normal but then it always tends to grow steadily throughout the year.

I'd like to hear what other clubs think about the new Warwick Sport to see what the general feeling is, especially if any other clubs have the problem with associate memberships that we do.

- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I think the increase in associate membership is certainly a very coarse way of trying to "ring-fence" benefits for students. I'm a new graduate and would love to stay involved in the motorsport club (after being an active member for 4 years, helping to run the club for three of those) but the associate membership fee is way too much. It would be interesting to find out how many people in previous years did buy associate memberships, and what they used them for (i.e. to continue with a sports club or just to use the gym at a reduced price).

    If your budget has increased by 50% this year you've done pretty well out of the new structure. It's tempting to say "we don't need the gym or the swimming pool" but Warwick Sport membership is something you only pay once no matter how many sports clubs you join. It's a pretty good deal to join an extra club and be insured on all of its activities for only £3 more.

    I'm sure Zain's trying his best for you, especially with it being the start of term, which is always manic. At the end of the day though, he's only one member of Sports Fed and has no special powers in that role. Warwick Sport is run as a tripartite system (Zain has one vote, Sports Fed has one vote and the university has one vote, or something like that) but the Union has got a lot of benefit for its members by involving the University in this case. (I disagree with the university's general push towards making the Union a "devolved department" though). Even if Zain was in sole charge, the terms and prices of Warwick Sport have been under discussion for well over two years now, and have been voted through into the constitutions and practices of the Union and university; don't expect there to be any large-scale reappraisal in the first two weeks of the scheme.

    08 Oct 2005, 13:22

  2. Zain has been very helpful, I didn't think he would be all that good before I met him but he has done very well, especially with the sports fair and so I have changed my opinion. We're not expecting him todo anything with the associate membership fee, what he is trying todo at the moment is get our club's graduated trip leaders involved as 'volunteer coaches', since this is really what they are when you think about it. All I need is the authorization from whoever needs to authorise it. I thought this would just be Zain himself, I don't really see what a sports club's coaching arrangements has todo with the university. Don't you think this is something that should still be under the sport fed's control?

    The gliding club has 50 members now and we can hardly operate until we have some trip leaders.

    08 Oct 2005, 13:44

  3. Oh fair enough, and that's a good way around it. But if a club is providing coaches for its members (whether they are paid or not), and the coach does something which leads to injury for one of those members, it's Warwick Sport's insurance that (initially at least) bears the cost of a claim. It's only reasonable that Warwick Sport investigates those it appoints as coaches, otherwise it could be considered negligent.

    08 Oct 2005, 14:15

  4. Sent the link for the blog to Zain, who will explain the process!

    08 Oct 2005, 18:37

  5. Gemma Carter-Morris

    I’m glad that people are starting to bring up the issue of Warwick Sport on the blogs and it is of particular interest to myself having moved from my role as the Sports Officer last year to my new role as Sports Development Co-ordinator. It’s gives myself and the other members of staff who are working so hard to ensure the smooth transition from the Sports Federation to Warwick Sport, a chance to hear what the students views are and to hopefully clear up some issues of confusion.

    The membership increase of £15 to £30 is purely an access change to use all the fantastic facilities that we have here at Warwick. This £30 is completely ring fenced for Sport at Warwick and none of the money will be going to increase and further develop our facilities, which will still be the job of the Department of Physical Education and Sport.

    As Oliver mentioned the club budgets have gone up by 40% this year which is a huge amount and this increase will be going straight back into the students and club development and is a hugely positive step forward for Sports here at Warwick. The membership of Warwick Sport does not just entitle you to access the facilities, its give you all your insurance cover for your sporting pursuits, access to free physiotherapy, and access to a new sports development programme. With the setting up of Warwick Sport 2 new members of staff have been employed who again are working for the Sports Clubs and all members of Warwick Sport to make sure everyone is getting the best opportunities to develop in whatever sport and to whatever level they wish.

    The reason that the Associate Membership has increased this year is to increase the benefits for the University as a whole and not for those who are no longer members of the University. However we do still welcome members onto one of our external schemes which start from £130, which also allows them to join the sports clubs. Even though this fee is an increase on last year it is still a very reasonable price to access our facilities and sports clubs and is a lot cheaper than many local sports complexes and clubs.

    The Sports Officer is still the primary representative for the Sports Federation, however with the implementation of Warwick Sport, the University and the Sports Federation are now a partnership. This is a decision that has taken over two years to finalise and there has been over whelming support both from the Students Union and University at every stage. The decision making body of Warwick Sport has equal representation from the University and the Union so in no way has the Sports Federation been “sold off”.

    With regards to the relocation of the Sports Administration, we are doing all we can to make this transition as smooth as possible. Whilst the pigeon holes and computers are still at the Students Union, so are all the forms and Lisa and Joe both make daily trips up to the Resources Room to pick up forms that have been left by students not wishing to come down to the Sports Centre.

    Sports Coaches are now to be paid by the University instead of the Students Union which is why the University are looking after all the Sports Coaches. With increased staffing resources we are hoping to support coaches a lot more with the setting up of a coach’s forum and links with Greater Warwickshire Sport and National Governing Bodies to further develop the coaches.

    Warwick Sport is a new initiative and as with all new ventures it is a learning curve for all involved. However after a successful start to the year we are all confident that the changes are going to have a hugely positive impact on sport here at the University.

    11 Oct 2005, 13:42

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