Meet the candidates running to be your next Sport and Student Development Officer

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By Emilie Robinson, Digital News Editor

The Sport and Student Development Officer is responsible for providing support to university sports clubs and any physical activity students take part in. The role also supports to students to develop skills outside academic studies.

With voting now open in the Bristol SU elections, students have the chance to elect their new full-time officers, including their Sport and Student Development Officer. Four candidates are in the race to take over from Rushab Shah, who has held the post for the last year.

Voting takes places using a ranked-choice system, meaning students can rank all the candidates in order. Voting will be open between 9am Tuesday 9 March and 9pm on Thursday 11 March. Results will be announced by Bristol SU via Instagram Live at 6pm on Friday 12 March. For more information on voting visit this link.

Here are the candidates running to be your next Sport and Student Development Officer (in alphabetical order):

Ben Wood

Bristol SU / Ben Wood

A fourth year International Relations MSc who also participates in sport at a high level, Ben is the Men’s Performance Captain of Badminton and a qualified RFU referee. Ben’s three main priorities include: offering affordable and accessible sports, exercise and wellbeing, a sport environment that ensures equal inclusion and opportunities and career development through sport.

Some policies he proposes are: reducing sports, exercise and health (SEH) membership prices by 10% and removing the charge on SEH members for court bookings; extending the U1 bus service to provide transport to Coombe Dingle; collaboration with BAME, LQBT+, and Disabled Students’ Networks to forge similar movements that push inclusion and participation; developing international outreach to encourage international students to get involved in UoB sport and organising career talks with professionals in the sports industry.

Speaking to Epigram Ben said he is ‘coming with a fresh set of ideas, a different approach and a different perspective in how we can really help students.’ He explained, ‘I want to acknowledge the impact of Covid-19, embrace some of the issues that have been raised in society at large during Covid-19, in terms of inclusion and diversity, and open up sport as a really inclusive and enjoyable community at Bristol.’


Jenny Herring

Bristol SU / Jenny Herring

Over the last year Jenny has been Chair of the Sports Network and in her second year at University was Women’s Waterpolo Captain. She has also enjoyed playing UoB rugby. Her campaign focuses on mental health, representation in university sport, rebuilding sporting structures at Bristol, evolving sporting opportunities and creating an exciting sports culture.

Some of her policies include: encouraging and working with Club Leaders and Social Secretaries to organise responsible socials, ensuring there are representatives from all student groups; including postgraduates in the Sports Network committee; training to help clubs build their memberships and secure income stability and bringing back sports nights, Score and student deals to the SU balloon bar.

Speaking to Epigram Jenny explained she has ‘loved being Chair of the Bristol SU Sports Network this year, and really enjoyed working with this year’s Sport and Student Development Officer, Rushab. This means I’ve gained a really valuable insight into what it takes to be successful in this role and I am ready to hit the ground running.’

She added her ‘main priority, if elected, would be to make our sporting community a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.’


Obafemi Alabi

Bristol SU / Obafemi Alabi

A third year Mechanical and Electrical Engineering student who has served on the committee of the Bristol African and Caribbean Society as the sports representative, Obafemi is a member of the UoB boxing club and co-founded a business which works to bring football and community engagement together. His campaign focuses on six different areas: communication, widening participation, transport, intramural sports, representation in university sport and university gyms.

Policies to address each of these include: holding bi-monthly feedback forums with club captains to understand what societies need, encouraging societies and clubs to accommodate all their members by holding non-alcoholic socials, for example; introducing referees for all intramural sport matches; launching Black History Month sport related events and advocating for reduced fees and 24/7 access to the university gym.

Speaking to Epigram Obafemi said he decided to run having ‘seen some gaps in the way that uni sports and intramural has been run at Bristol University’ and that his campaign’s main priority ‘would be widening participation and representation and encouraging under-represented minorities to feel comfortable in sports clubs and intramural sports at the university.’


Sammy Cobbold

Bristol SU / Sammy Cobbold

Over the last two years, Sammy has been UoB Basketball club captain and is advocating for inclusion, education and positive wellbeing.

His policies include holding termly focus groups with the Disabled Students’ Network and LGBT+ and Trans Networks; promoting the Activity Hardship Fund to students experiencing financial hardship and increasing the fund’s maximum from £100 to £250; launching inter-club sustainability challenges such as Zero-plastic and Veganuary; strengthening the sporting community by extending university gym opening hours and live-streaming home fixtures; and promoting mental health by making mental health first aid mandatory for coaches, captains and at least two committee members.

Speaking to Epigram Sammy explained he ‘could make a positive difference at a wider level’ and added: ‘sport should be accessible to all, and students are the ones who can make this happen; I hope to be the voice that facilitates this.’

His main priority ‘is to use sport as a platform to promote inclusion, education and better student wellbeing’ and ‘to achieve this, I want to create an online collaboration platform for sport clubs, societies and liberation networks, through which resources can be shared and awareness can be spread.’

Featured Image: Epigram / Siavash Minoukadeh / Patrick Sullivan


Will you be voting in the Bristol SU elections? Click here for more information on how to do so.

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