A (Second) Year As VP Sport

After two years in the role of VP Sport, we're getting ready to say goodbye to the biggest Bear in town, Dom Brown. Before he departs, we caught up with Dom to find out about his experience as a Sabbatical Officer, his sporting highlights, and what he'll miss most. #COYBears

I have been fortunate enough to fulfil another year in the role of VP Sport, it was a dream for me to initially get the role but I was over the moon to get a second opportunity to achieve more.

Knowing that this would be the final year of the Sabbatical Officer role of VP Sport – before the merge with VP Societies & Media – I was keen to leave an impact and do my utmost to communicate and engage with students. At times this can be tough and I appreciate that mistakes are made and we can always improve, but my intentions and motivation have been to improve the lives of students who want to be physically active.

Wins for students!

Well, it has been an extremely strange year with strikes and Covid-19 affecting everyone significantly and putting a dent in students’ experiences. However, alongside these interruptions, we have been able to achieve some significant developments and changes, which are going to benefit students.

  • Removing the Student Opportunities membership fee: After a lenghty project this year and consultation with the Societies, Sports and Opportunities Executive, a decision was made to remove the access fee which all members must purchase before joining a student group. This will come into effect from the upcoming academic year and will remove a barrier to entry which will allow groups to be more inclusive, and even for some groups to have a free joining membership.
  • Focusing on physical activity: This year the sector has significantly moved focus towards participation in sport and encouraging more people to be physically active. This year we really pushed out clubs and societies to be as inclusive as possible to ensure students feel comfortable joining clubs and societies.
  • Looking after your welfare: This year we have introduced the first welfare secretaries into student groups. In total, we have over ten roles in different groups, which have a focus on the wellbeing of their members. This is absolutely fantastic and I would love to see this number rise in the years to come.
  • SSO: This year was the first year of the Societies, Sports and Opportunities Executive. It was fantastic to be able to get students involved in the decision-making process for different projects and events, and we look forward to seeing the executive become ever more important in the upcoming years.
  • Committee admin: Starting with the implementation of Freshdesk, we have made a tremendous effort to simplify the lives of our committee members and staff members. Alongside Freshdesk we have also simplified our risk assessment process, having introduced an event proposal form and updated the constitution document for student groups.
  • Movember: Once again we have seen plenty of events and charity fundraisers this year with Movember standing out with thousands of pounds raised between a number of different clubs.
  • #DoesYouGood: This year, in conjunction with the University, we ran a sport #DoesYouGood campaign, which encouraged students to get more physically active. This included an incredible event space at Freshers’ Fair with a number of events and open sessions for students to try out.

There have been many, many more achievements as an organisation and that’s not even including the amazing campaigns and competitive success student groups have experienced this past year.

What has my experience as a Sabb been like?

Being a Sabbatical Officer has simultaneously been the most challenging and rewarding experience in my life. I have woken up every morning excited and motivated to go to work and see what the day brings. As I mentioned earlier, it can often bring low points and difficult situations, but through this, I have been able to learn and improve dramatically.

The role has helped me develop as a human being over the past two years of dedication to the amazing sports clubs and students at Royal Holloway. These positions would not be possible without the students and the amazing work they put in week on week.

Easily, the most rewarding thing as a VP Sport is seeing sports clubs succeed, develop and inspire. I have been fortunate enough to witness groups and individuals achieve some amazing things and I look forward to watching with a keen eye.

What will I miss the most?

What I will miss overwhelmingly above anything else, is working with sports clubs and student committees, who I have come to really appreciate and admire over the past two years. Coupled alongside an absolutely incredible staff and Sabbatical Officer team, who have inspired me every day.

My passion is sport and for young people to use physical activity to escape from the issues of life to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. I am going to miss working to improve the life of students through sport and proving to the University that it is a vital experience for students, which needs to be invested in and not forgotten about. It is important that students get a well-rounded university experience and sport is part of that.

Where I am going?

Well… unfortunately, Covid-19 hasn’t been very friendly in terms of job opportunities. In a dream world, I would love to continue working in a sporting environment or organisation, whether that be media or marketing based, or helping to promote physical activity in charities.

What I have learned over the past couple of years is that sport is an extreme passion and motivation for me and I would love to work doing something I love.

Whatever I go on to do, I will be taking the experiences and learning curves with me! For now, it looks like sitting at home job surfing and working for the family business!

Why should you stand in the SU Elections?

I can’t remember the number of times I almost didn’t run for this role because I was nervous or lacked confidence and self-belief. But I cannot begin to describe how incredibly happy I am that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and go on to do something that I have loved for the past two years.

My advice is that if you truly are passionate about something, want to make change, learn and grow, then take the leap and run to be a Sabbatical Officer or any student leader whether that be a course rep, committee member or executive member.

It can be scary putting yourself out there, I know I struggled at first, but the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the tough times.

I could not recommend standing in the SU Elections enough.