With the first meeting of the Sports Crew taking place last week, Daniel Keenan speaks to Sports Officer Paddy Guiney about plans for the year ahead.
Introduced by Paul Lynam last year, the roll of Sports Officer has been set up in UCD to promote internal sports and healthy living. Though in its second year, this is the first year to have an official sports crew, lead by Sports Officer, Paddy Guiney. One problem that Guiney hopes to tackle is the lack of support for UCD teams.
UCD AFC compete in the Airtricity League; UCD RFC are in the second highest league in Ireland and contain potential Irish internationals in their squad, while the GAA clubs have county stars and compete in the Dublin Championship, as well as Intervarsity tournaments such as the Sigerson Cup.
Despite consistently impressive teams, they fail to receive the support that a university with a population of about 22,000 should receive. It’s not an uncommon sight to see UCD AFC playing in front of a near-empty Bowl, or for a hockey tournament held on campus to go almost unnoticed. Whether this is due to the teams failing to capture the imagination of supporters, lack of advertising or just the lack of comradery and togetherness among students, it is a problem that Guiney plans to tackle.
“This year, my own goal is to get people to matches,” says Guiney. “We have a soccer team in the Airtricity, we have a rugby team that’s very successful and the hockey team is better than ever at the weekends. But unfortunately people don’t know that and don’t attend the games. [Low attendance at matches] is a cultural problem in UCD and can’t be changed overnight.”
To try and encourage attendance, Guiney and the Sports Crew have several different ideas to promote sports around UCD. “We’d like to see UCD flags up around campus and we have an idea for a mascot. One of the ideas is Support Your College Week; in any particular week the Sports Crew and I will plug a particular team completely.”
While a big part of the Sports Crew’s job is to try to build a fanbase for the major sports teams in UCD, they are also hosting events throughout the year to encourage students to get involved and get active.
“From the 8th of November we’re going to be hosting a UCD 5-a-side league. There’s a huge demand for this and I’ve always been told in college from lads who don’t have time to play 11-a-side soccer, why can’t we get a 5-a-side team going?”
As well as the 5-a-side league, the Sports Crew are organising a Playstation ‘Fifa’ tournament on December 1st, a skydive and a flashmob. Though some of the events seem outside the realm of traditional sports, Guiney believes that getting people involved in sport in any way is a positive step; “The main ethos behind these events is just to get people active.”
While promoting activities, Guiney also hopes to promote healthy living. The events are generally alcohol free: “I want to emphasise non-alcoholic events,” says Guiney. “Part of my roll as Sports Officer is to promote healthy living.”
The role of Sports Officer is fairly clear-cut, and Guiney is clear in his goals: “My main aim is to create a link or work on the current link we already have with the sports clubs and create an atmosphere where people want to go to a game.”
With the organisation of events, Guiney is expanding and organising a model already present in UCD. The biggest challenge is sure to be breaking down the apathetic culture prevalent among students with regard to sport in UCD.