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Ashlea Prescott – Sport – Label Interview

Ashlea Prescott – Sport – Label Interview
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In your manifesto you say that you want to increase promotion of sport to boost participation and spectatorship. The presence and coverage of sport in Loughborough is already pretty broad so what makes you think that increased promotion is the key to improving opportunities within sport?

It’s not necessarily the volume of promotion but actually making sure that it’s specific to clubs or sections of sport that really need people to be aware of them. So if you look at what we’ve currently got, lots of things are really AU dominated, especially our Performance Sports which already get quite a lot of coverage from Loughborough Sport. So things like actually really pushing department sport that’s open for everybody, that everyone can have a go at, or the Coaching Volunteer Academy, again, a really exciting opportunity but not necessarily everyone knows about it. Then within the AU trying to push clubs that aren’t competing in BUCS, because they often feel unrepresented, or those that are looking for more members. Or it could be something that people haven’t tried before like Kart; people need to be more aware of those types of opportunities. It’s not necessarily increasing the volume of promotion but making sure we’re increasing the cross-network of it.

You talk about having WoW Magazine again, how are you going to improve it next year and how will it work alongside Label?

I think it’s something that…because my role at the moment, I sit on the Exec but don’t actually manage the AU – that’s something that comes under this role – so making sure that…so at the moment Jonny [Flowers], our media officer, is managed through one-to-one catch ups with Luke (Thompson) so he’s able to give more feedback on how that works at the moment which is something that I don’t think Luke has put as a priority. So his aim was to introduce these things – exactly how they were going to work he’s left with Jonny and I think as Jonny leaves we need to make sure that we build on that and fix it. So what happens at the moment is Jonny’s invited to a Match Report meeting, for example, and somebody on Jonny’s media subcommittee works with Label but I’d like to really be able to tie those pieces together so there’s some sort of link between sport and media. Is it the Media Officer? I’m not entirely sure but it would partly be up to the Media Officer and myself to decide that, if elected. Then how do we pick these opportunities, these sports clubs to be showcased to make sure that if Label are covering somebody, we’re covering somebody different or actually that we’re covering things together to really get promotion out there? It’s just a communication piece, I think.

Due to Loughborough’s sporting prowess, certain, potentially less able, students feel alienated from putting themselves out there and getting involved. How would you make the AU more appealing to these students?

I think that certain parts of the AU will never appeal to those students. Take our men’s rugby team for example. Unless you’ve got a really big experience of playing rugby you’re going to struggle to fit into that team. It’s about pushing the right things to them. So depending on what the ability is…we’ve actually launched things this year, part-way through the year, clubs that are still looking for members. There’s actually been talk before of having a Martial Arts week because often they’ll take people that are beginners. So it’s how do we get to a point where, when clubs are still looking for members, we’re making sure we’re pushing to meet that barrier. I think it ties into the first point about the coverage and promotion. Is it through the whole Sport Coordinators, they’re going into their halls and saying “these are the AU clubs that are still looking for members and they’re happy to recruit beginners”. Maybe we make a short video to share amongst the halls.

Cutting costs is always on a sport candidate manifesto. How do you plan to make changes that haven’t been made before and why will they work now if every year it comes up as a problem?

I don’t think cutting cost is necessarily really easy to do but…when Luke finishes his term, he’ll have written a strategy for the Athletic Union and at that point we’ll actually be able to work out which costs are really important and which costs might not be. So I think that’s why we’re in a different position from where we’ve been before. We’ve actually raised costs this past year, almost, to make clubs sustainable…which had a knock-on effect for students but that’s allowed for this really fantastic grant funding and Club of the Week schemes where clubs can apply for the money or win money on the Club of the Week system that they can use then for development. So although the student is paying a little bit more than previously, they’re actually getting access to more than they were previously and that’s where the minimising cost piece comes in. Actually it’s picking things that currently cost us a lot of money – why is that? Is it justified? Yes. When we look at things like…if you’re playing in a non-BUCS sport or playing a BUCS sport, BUCS is heavily subsidised so how can we support the non-BUCS teams. Are they the clubs we particularly pick out for sponsorship? I don’t know but it’s looking at things like that with this new strategy in place of where the AU’s money is going to go.

You’ve got a lot of experience and, obviously, you can’t fit it all into your manifesto so can you tell us what experience you’ve had and what makes you perfect for this role?

When I started at Loughborough five years ago, I got involved in the Women’s Rugby Club and then in my second year I became Chair – quite unusual for a first year to take on that job but nobody else was really willing. I ended up doing it for two years because I was really passionate about the Women’s Rugby Club and when I started we only had ten members which was a bit of an interesting situation – it was just me and my committee and when I actually came off as Club Chair we were in a situation where we had a second team competing BUCS and we were being considered by the University for extra funding, pushing towards a Performance type environment. So really successful. During my third year I got injured which meant I ended up staying for a fourth year so at that point I started to think about…I had kind of done what I wanted to do within the Women’s Rugby Club…how could I share what I’ve done? I found it really useful in my third year…I was friends with the Badminton Chair and it was useful to share things with each other…and I was like: how can I keep doing this? I’d met Luke when he was campaigning and got on quite well with him so I was like: maybe I’ll go speak to him about being on the AU Exec and I was in a position where I was on AU Exec as Secretary doing a different role to what it is now because I was only doing my degree part-time – I was also working two days a week in the Sport Office on the helpdesk, helping with all the different sections. So the role I was doing in there was quite big and it became the birth of the role I have now as the AU Intern…last year and this year as well as being predominantly active within the AU helping clubs. I’ve also sat on the Sport Senate so I’ve also got a really good knowledge of the other sporting programs from that.

Interview conducted and written up by David Boyden, Label Sport Editor

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