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INTERVIEW: AU President Louise Fell talks the year ahead

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How have you settled into life as VP Sport?

After being the Sports Publicity Officer in the AU Exec last year, I thought I really understood the intricacies of the role as AU President. Oh, how I was wrong! I was thrown into the deep end of Sabb life straight away, being sent to all sorts of conferences around the country. Sports Conferences, Student’s Union Conferences, Welsh Conferences, all to enhance the Bangor student sport experience. As well as this, I’ve been getting to grips with understanding the requirements of all of the sports, by meeting with site staff, conversing with club captains and their committees, along with attempting to find coaches for our clubs and-best of all-buying them lots of fancy new kit!

What attracted you to run for VP Sport in the first place?

I’ve been interested in the role of AU President for many years. The idea of helping shape the aspect of the Student’s Union that has had the most profound effect on my student experience seemed like a natural career choice, and due to it being my last academic year at Bangor University, I felt compelled to run in the election.

What have you been doing as VP Sport to prepare for this year?

I have been working on making everything we do slightly better. The Student’s Union were lucky enough to see an increase in funding this year, and the Opportunities team worked hard to ensure that the AU, Societies, Volunteering and UMCB saw an increase in funding. As a result, I’ve been looking into providing better kit, facilities and more coaches for clubs across the board, as well as ensuring that they have what they need to run before they arrive in Bangor for Welcome Week.

What are your main goals for this year? 

As seen in manifesto, one of my biggest goals for the year is enabling financial self-sufficiency of clubs. The AU does not have an endless pot of money, and as we saw last year, big financial cuts created unforeseen barriers to some clubs. I don’t think clubs should be in this position if cuts were to happen again. This means I will be actively encouraging students groups to raise income from annual events, such as tournaments and competitions, that both the local community and other universities can get involved with. This would allow the clubs to have access to additional finances that would be separate from their block grant, giving them the opportunity to go the extra mile and experience things that may have been previously unreachable due to financial constraints.

Something else I will be working on this year is a campaign specifically for Men’s Mental Health. As I’m sure we are all aware, suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 35, and as that demographic directly represents some of our student population, it’s something universities need to begin safeguarding. Campaigns such as #ITSOKAYTONOTBEOKAY and Alright Mate? are taking positive strides in ensuring awareness, I aim to ensure that Bangor Student’s Union will be following suit.

What main events should students be looking out for?

Serendipity this year will be bigger than ever, with food stalls, and inflatable sporting tasks, it should be a great event, so from Postgraduates to Freshers, make sure you get involved!

Aberystwyth will be hosting Varsity this year, nonetheless we will be bringing home the win. This does however, mean that this year we do not have the pleasure of hosting a big sporting event in Bangor and as a result I hope to really take Old Stars weekend to the next level! For those who don’t know what Old Stars is, its an opportunity for Bangor alumni to return and attempt to take on the spring chickens of today, in their respective sports. So look out for big things happening next March.

What’s your advice to students looking to get involved in sport at Bangor Uni (both experienced and novice)?

We have something for everybody, if it’s just an informal kick around on a weekend to replace your Sunday League needs, or whether you want to push yourself and the university teams to higher levels by competing week in week out in our BUCS competitions, there will be a club for you. Rarely do we find that a sport is not represented here at Bangor, however if you feel as though we are missing a sport that you are passionate about then feel free to grab a group of friends and come down and visit me at my office in the Students Union, and you can start up your very own club – it really is that simple!

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Finnian Shardlow

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