Ever since Badger Sport ran the articles questioning the University’s funding of sport, SussexSport have wasted no opportunity to contact us highlighting everything they fund as a department.
From the tissue paper supplied in the gym to clean the sweaty bench press to the martial art schemes, and now, in collaboration with the Student’s Union, SussexSport is reviving a previous scheme called ‘Focus Sport’.
Focus Sport is aimed at injecting extra funding into clubs which have a history of being well-run and successful, both on and off the pitch, yet need increased support to ensure they progress to even higher levels and in some cases, to simply defend their place as the competition gathers pace and momentum all around them.
The previous incarnation of the scheme saw the development of relationships with major clubs in the local area, such as the Brighton Bears basketball team and the Lewes Hockey Club, with the two competing at Professional and Semi-Professional level respectively. However, the program was retired shortly after the disbandment of the the clubs.
Initially, the scheme will offer extra funding and support to just two clubs. It has been decided these clubs will be Ultimate Frisbee and Fencing, which fought off competition from a third, unknown club as the strongest applications in the eyes of the people behind Focus Sport’s return.
Few people could dispute the strength of Sussex’s teams for both these sports. It is estimated that these two clubs will receive extra funding of around £1500, which will be administered carefully as and when plans are settled upon for how the investment will be best used.
SussexSport Development Officers have already been very busy consulting and relaying ideas with sporting departments across the country, in order to broaden their knowledge and learn from the successful ideas already in place at some of the top sporting Universities. They hope that this background research will be invaluable when it comes to spending the money wisely.
Additionally, there is a lot effort being made to investigate ways to ensure that this money is invested to be useful in not just the short term, for current students, but also in the longer term, for future participants.
There are several ideas in development aimed at helping develop the University’s status in the respective sports in order to regularly attract top players, such as setting up links with clubs and colleges across the UK with a pedigree for fencing, almost like establishing feeder clubs.
This long term planning is perhaps the most vital area in which the money will be spent given the lack of clear facilities for these two sports at present, as both clubs enjoy immense success now (Frisbee historically so).
While the initial sum isn’t particularly great when you consider how much it takes to run a sports club, if invested wisely on additional and extraordinary equipment and or systems, it could well provide the small yet decisive edge that makes all the difference in high level sports.
While facilities across the board remain limited and a long term problem, we can at least ensure we have some of the best run clubs. There is also a distinct possibility that should the relaunch prove to be successful, it will not only be sustained but a third club could also be granted similar benefits, money allowing.
That’s something for all of us on the committees at Sports Clubs to strive for.