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Union News

Interview: VP Sports Candidate, Gez Matthews

Where are you originally from?

What originally drew you to the University of Portsmouth?
It’s only an hour away, so it’s close enough that I can go home every other weekend. I used to play rugby every weekend back home as well so it made that easier as well. The sports course that I’m currently doing fit me very well where it’s not all intense sport but sports management as well, so learning the business side of things as well. Sports management or gym management is what I’m really interested in.

What is your favourite thing about the city of Portsmouth?
Even though it’s cliche, I used to live quite close to the beach and come revision time it was quite nice to walk to the beach and unwind and when exams were over especially, it was quite nice to relax and have a few beers. So I really do like being quite close to the beach.

Who is your idol and why?
He’s definitely not my idol but you know who I do love on Instagram – The Rock. The Rock on Instagram is such a top boy. I’m a family man, I’m in the gym. He’s not my idol as such, but I appreciate how he tries to do everything. That’s an impressive feat.

What is your dream job and why?
Well I used to be a snowboarding instructor, so if I could do that professionally that’d be a dream job. I know it sounds a little bit silly but in terms of what I want to do, running my own strength and conditioning business that’d be really fantastic.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing that you would buy?
I think about that every day haha. The first thing I’d buy is my own gym because I feel like, especially in Portsmouth, there’s not an amazing gym. So I’d buy my own one and it’d be top notch.

What was the primary reason for you running in the student elections?
So this year I’ve been club captain of rugby and I’ve been very involved with what goes on at the union and the way that sport is run. Being that involved with the club enables you to see where things can be improved. I think that it gives you a lot more motivation and a drive to try and improve those things. A lot of my manifesto points come from the struggles I’ve had this year and as a role I think it’s very unique. You don’t really get a job like this elsewhere except in a university setting.

If you could change one thing that would instantly improve everyday life for students at the university, what would it be and why?
I mean the first thing I thought of was just like, what if everyone got a tenner a day? That’s a meal deal and maybe a coffee, and if it’s been a slow week, maybe I could get a steak later in the week. Or maybe moving the student day from a 9am to start to 11. A nice little lay-in everyday would be fantastic wouldn’t it.

Sum up your manifesto in roughly 10-15 seconds.
Standardised kits for the university, so basically it unifies the university – one Portsmouth, one team. A social playing tour which is good for students as well as the university. Finally, give-it-a-go days to get students involved in sport and trying different things until they find something they enjoy.

What will you do to maintain and build on the newly established sports partnership between  the union, sport and recreation, and sport and exercise science?
I think the first thing you have to address in that question how we can ensure that partnership grows. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not 100% fully involved with that yet but logistically in regards to coaches, travel and pitch hire, we can make that bond much stronger. In regards to sports science, we have one of the leading sports science departments. However, it’s about what sports you want to get engaged with. Sports like running and cycling are massively easy to support but it’s much harder to get team sports involved with the sports science department because of the high number of participants. But what I’d like to see is more lecturers and lab technicians getting involved. I’d be happy to organise that but if it came from, for example, Zoe who works with Harlequins rugby, I’d love for her to get involved with her nutritional and physiological work. She could take the information she has and help the rugby team at the university.

How do you intend to promote the union to our less engaged students?
I think the union does a fantastic job getting a variety of activities on but I still think we can increase that variety. In regards to the SU, I know there are lots of different events going on but I still feel like it’s kind of minute and poorly advertised. In regards to sports and the workshops we do in here, not to be mean, but again I think they are poorly advertised. I don’t want to be harsh, but I don’t really know what’s going on per week. Maybe that’s because I don’t look or because I’m being lazy. So if we could advertise it and make it a bit more visible for everyone, I think lesser engaged students will feel more encouraged. People can engage with anything – they just need to have the knowledge of what’s available. So if you can promote a variety of things in the right ways and in the right channels, it should work.

It’s often a misconception that you are VP AU. What would you do to ensure this is not the case?
A lot of people misconceive that because a lot of the big clubs are in the AU. They’re going to be promoted more and people are going to hear about them more. But I think we need to better promote the smaller or lesser known clubs. This comes back to the give-it-a-go days. Those non-AU clubs would receive heavy advertising so people know about them and people can get involved with them. That would diffuse the whole AU stigma.

Sport has the potential to bring students from a variety of different backgrounds together. How will you work to ensure this potential is maximised and hard to reach groups are better involved?
The idea of those is to maximise the opportunity for anyone to join a sport. Again, it’s about promotion at freshers as a whole and the big clubs just rely on people knowing they’re popular e.g. football, hockey, rugby, etc. They rely on people coming to university and wanting to play those sports. I think hard to reach groups often don’t like the so-called big sports and maybe that’s a bit of a generalisation. A lot of students get scared of joining these big groups of people so to get to those hard to reach groups we need to improve freshers’ fayre. We need to let these less popular sports have more advertising and be made into a showpiece. But it’s also about asking these hard to reach groups what kind of sports or societies that they might be interested in. There’s a lot of stuff out there but it’s also about advertising better and that’s what the give-it-a-go days are there for.

There’s a huge focus on BUCS teams at the university but not all teams are in BUCS leagues. What are you going to do increase the profile of these clubs specifically?
I agree with that comment, I think there definitely is a disparity between both. However, I think where we have the union and sports and recreation, it allows the union a big opportunity to advertise the clubs that have left. So where sports and recreation have taken over the bigger clubs, the union now has a huge opportunity to advertise the clubs that aren’t in there. On the union website, they can promote the clubs that they own. So the advertisement of those clubs can be focussed on quite heavily. One thing I am looking into is getting guest coaches in. We can literally email them and get them in and for them it’s fantastic exposure for them and for us it’s fantastic because we get some great coaching. So the development of those non-BUCS teams can be pushed forward much more easily now.

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