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Nouse Interviews... Maddi Cannell

James Moultrie sits down with the re-elected York Sport President Maddi Cannell

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Image Credit: Maddi Image: Luke Snell. Graphic: Patrick Hook-Willers & Jonathan Wellington

What made you want to run for a second term in office as York Sport Union President?
I have absolutely loved my first seven months in the role. However, my first term has not been without criticism, most of it mirrors frustrations that I share myself like the absolutely awful weather we seem to have experienced since last October. I would not want to walk away from the role while there is still work to be done, work that I have a passion for, and work that I feel I have some solutions to. And of course who would not want a home Roses!

One of the key areas you focused on in the election campaign was facilities. Despite the progress you’ve made this year, they are still at near capacity, what do you hope to achieve to make genuine progress in this area next year?
I would like to start by highlighting all the progress that has already been made. Regarding Campus East Lake I submitted a paper to planners which myself and student clubs are waiting to hear a decision on imminently. In Derwent Squash Court (flat floor space) myself and seven clubs were successful in securing a £5,000 grant for equipment, and are currently working with Estates to put storage facilities in on the balcony, and maintenance to improve cleaning provision. On the York Sport Centre redevelopment we continue to have Uni and College clubs giving suggestions for redevelopment, have had a new netball court in the tennis dome surfaced to increase capacity, and are about to resurface the outdoor netball courts to stop them being slippery and increase usage. And then of course there is the big ticket item, the 22 Acres Artificial Pitches and Pavilion redevelopment. Myself and York Sport continue to talk to both the University and National Governing Bodies to secure appropriate funding to get these built. There is an acknowledgement from the University that our grass pitches have let us down heavily this year, and so I am positive I can get the funding in place to ensure development in the very near future.

How can College sport players unable to play due to lack of facilities, particularly on the 22 Acres, be justifiably asked to pay a £30 fee when their game time cannot be guaranteed?
The £30 fee does not go towards paying for match day facilities. The fund-ing for this comes through a separate budget line, as all colleges take part in the College Sport leagues, not just the three on the pilot. Things that the £30 fee goes towards are training facility hire, a College branded sports t-shirt, sports insurance, personal development opportunities, unlimited access to all sports on offer on the pilot in the college, and once minimum numbers set by the College are reached, a grants system awarded by the College chair/President and VP of Sport.

On issues with games on 22 Acres, my team have been working hard to, whenever possible, move College fixtures onto alternative artificial surfaces. For College football this has proved easier as we have the JLD and 3G, but for College rugby this requires there being availability on local alternate facilities.

How do you think your proposed reform to college sport governance will solve the issues raised by college teams in the last year?
I do not think that we have been using what is probably College sport’s best asset to the full: the captains! Captains are hugely passionate about their teams and clubs, but they also experience the current issues with College sport first hand. My proposal would bring these individuals into decision making, allowing them to make submissions to a brand new College Sport Committee on changes or adaptations that need to be made to their leagues. The College Sport Committee would be made up of College Committee Reps to ensure that the elected College Reps still have decision making power as well. This will stop the need to rely on survey data that will be nearly three years out of date to make decisions, which clearly does not reflect the way the leagues have worked this year or in-deed will work next year.

In your most recent ‘Sabbs in short’ and throughout the campaign, you addressed the controversy around anonymous social media platforms such as Yorfess, how important do you think it was for you to do so, and why does it matter so much in a sporting context?
Obviously plat-forms such as Yorfess are useful in allowing students to speak out and be honest about the University, current events, or just funny things that happened to them that day. However, there is also a darker side to anonymous social media platforms and that is when clubs, societies and individuals get belittled, made fun of, and othered. Campus should be a place where everyone feels they can be themselves without fear of judgement, something we can achieve if we all make a conscious effort to think about our language and behaviour towards others. I think it is important in a sporting context because of the high pressure that competition brings.

Both you and Jade Brewer talked a lot about mental health in the election campaign. What progress have you made this year, and how will a second year as president allow you to make further progress in this area?
Last Thursday evening the York Sport Union held a Sport and Wellbeing Workshop in conjunction with York Student Minds. On Student Mental Health Day (5 March) we are teaming up again to bring a day of activity in the Main Hall! A second year as president will allow me to further this work by getting welfare officers properly trained up through the new Mental Health First Aid training initiative which will begin rolling out next term.

In a recent poll conducted by NouseSport on twitter, 75 per cent of respondents said they weren’t happy with the service provided by Akuma, despite you saying last year that things would improve. What progress, if any has been made since last year and how will you further combat this ongoing issue?
Last year I said that I would aim to collate feedback and send it to Akuma. This is something that I have been doing throughout the year, with many clubs being sent replacement items free of charge when the service has not been to the standard expected.

I am going to introduce an easier complaints procedure form to be hosted on the website. I have also asked Akuma to produce a better brochure with a much clearer ordering process explanation to eradicate hidden costs which some were finding when it came to purchasing. This should be with us for next term.

Nouse Sport extends its congratulations to Maddi on another successful election campaign. Maddi has worked with the team throughout the year, ensuring key sporting news is distributed across campus. After a successful College Varsity at the weekend, her focus now turns to securing a rare away Roses victory.

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