The article in the first issue of Varsity in 2016 raises some important issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, indeed sport is for everyone. It is important to have a variety of sports available to people, and to be sure that all sport is as open and inclusive as possible. UCT boasts 38 sports, and at the core of these sports is student involvement.
Prior to the preceding article being written the Student Sports Union (SSU) had already met with management of Stellenbosch's wheelchair rugby, and goal ball clubs. From this meeting fixture dates have been proposed and will be announced soon. Further, In 2015 a survey was sent out to sports clubs’ committees asking them about their transformation and development initiatives including if they are both competitive and social, do they have equipment rental or loan facilities for members that may not be able to afford kit, do they have development activities aimed at engaging with the wider public and attracting potential future members to apply to UCT, and is their club open and accessible to all. From conducting this survey it was decided that each club should have a dedicated Transformation Officer on its committee. Further, it was agreed that transformation workshops should be held with sports clubs to firstly gauge what their current demographics look like and how they feel about them. Secondly, the workshops aimed at sharing experiences, problems and mulling over potential solutions to transformation issues in sport at UCT.
We had also already sent out a survey to users of our own Disability Service to ascertain how involved they are in sport and if there are any barriers we should address. We intend on sending the survey out to the wider University student population soon. The survey aims to investigate students’ experiences of sport at UCT. Questions will gain detail on whether or not students play sport in general and/or at UCT, why (not), and their experiences of and in sports clubs at UCT. Action is needed, and action is what we are taking. We have other sports events we are planning as well to showcase some Paralympic and traditional/indigenous sports.
Additionally, we are working on keeping channels open to students so if they have experienced any issues with sports clubs they can contact us and we can help as best we can. So far no one has asked us about what is being done to transform sport at UCT, but also no one has said that they were turned away from a club due to disability or any other factors. If this has happened to someone, we urge that person to contact us on email@example.com so we can work with them in solving the issue.
Now, a challenge was essentially posed after the SSU had already accepted and begun to meet it. The challenge does however apply to all UCT students. As such, I’d like to further the challenge posed to the student body: Be proactive and communicative when it comes to sport. This year two new sports have started at UCT. They started because students approached the SSU with a proposal and a show of interest. This was then taken to sports council and then approved. So, if there is a branch within an existing sport that you would like to see more of, engage with the club and include the SSU in the conversation. Where possible that inclusion will happen. If there is a sport not currently available at UCT and students would like to play it, then please draw up a proposal and present a show of interest and if all goes well the club will come into existence. All sports clubs that exist at UCT exist because students make them so. The SSU is committed to ensuring the sports continue to thrive and there is as much participation as possible, but the growth of sport at UCT is a team endeavor, and we all need to do our part. Let us get involved in continuing to build our sporting community into a further united body based on the core sporting values: community/friendship, learning, sheer enjoyment, fairness/justice, and the drive for excellence.