Student sport – a life changing season on and off the pitch
Our guest blog from Scottish Student Sport reports on a highly successful 2022-23 season focused on involvement and inclusivity.
The 2022-23 Scottish Student Sport season has been one of the best ever. From rebuilding post pandemic to witnessing our most inclusive Student Games, with more events held than ever before, and a new student membership record, this season has been one to celebrate. Alongside a multitude of competition action Scottish Student Sport (SSS) has made a huge push to encourage more Scottish students to be active than ever before through inclusion and active health work, set up future success through training and leadership programmes and pioneered student Boccia at ten institutions through our special projects fund. Thanks to the SFC’s ongoing support, SSS is making a huge and positive impact on the student experience, bringing together students week in week out and getting more people active than ever before.
Competitions are the bread and butter of Scottish Student Sport, and seeing more students than ever getting involved has been a significant highlight of the season so far. SSS is on track to run more than 120 events, the most ever in a single season and has successfully delivered student sport week in and week out since September. This consistency has helped create a buzz of excitement among students and institutions alike, creating an environment where healthy competition can thrive, and the mental and physical health benefits of student sport are encouraged. This year’s Student Games were of particular note, bringing together hundreds of students to venues across Edinburgh and Glasgow for a day of sporting competition and, for the first time including Wheelchair Basketball and disability categories in both Basketball and Swimming, making it our most inclusive games ever!
Though we’re nearing the end of the competitions season it’s not over yet, with National Squad activity taking place throughout spring and summer, giving students the chance to represent Scotland in national competition, as well as the beginning of our summer sports season there’s plenty still to come.
Alongside a fantastic run of competitions, Scottish Student Sport continues working to develop the student sector workforce through leadership and officiating courses, to lead the sector in inclusion and diversity work and collaborate with partners such as Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to improve student health and wellbeing.
Inclusion and diversity work is at the forefront of SSS's agenda this season. The University of Stirling played host to the inaugural Boccia Championships, where fifty students from colleges and universities around the country competed in a thrilling team event. SSS has also been actively promoting Boccia among Scottish institutions by delivering ten kits, with the aim of aiding the creation of student clubs and encouraging more students to take up the sport.
Scottish Student Sport is also committed to stamping out LGBTQ+ discrimination, and this season, the organisation has continued its partnership with LEAP Sports to achieve this goal. Through this partnership SSS hopes to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students involved in sports, pledging support to the Football v Homophobia campaign and working with partners and students to tackle homophobic culture within Student Sports clubs.
Getting more people involved in student sport is the most important part of the work done at Scottish Student sport. By working with SAMH to support the creation of the national charter for sport demonstrates a commitment to put student mental health at the forefront of its development work. This charter aims to improve equality and reduce discrimination for anyone with a mental health problem taking part in sport. Alongside looking after students' mental health SSS is committed to ensuring students who aren’t already engaged in college and university sport are also supported by collaborating with sportscotland and the college network to develop sport and exercise and create a healthier campus environment where lifelong habits are formed. This exciting partnership will see a number of new jobs created within the college sector specifically focused on getting more college students taking part in sport and exercise across their campuses.
Further to this, SSS is leading the sector through its active health work. Led by a dedicated member of staff and delivered through events such as the active health forum, colleagues from institutions across Scotland are provided a platform to share ideas and best practices for promoting active health among students. Recently, the forum hosted presentations from SAMH, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), and the Daily Mile. These presentations highlighted the importance of physical activity and mental wellbeing for students, and how institutions can effectively promote these areas.
In conclusion, the SSS 2022-23 season has been a resounding success so far. The organisation has set new benchmarks for the number of events held, membership numbers, and inclusion initiatives. The focus on making students healthier and promoting inclusion and diversity has made SSS a leader in the sector and a dedication to providing students with opportunities for physical activity and personal development has had a positive impact on Scottish students and the wider community. The 40,000 Students in our network have contributed towards a phenomenal year, and we can’t wait to see what the 2023-24 season brings.
Cameron Wright, Communications Co-ordinator, Scottish Student Sport - 27 Apr 2023