Sporting societies and initiatives across LSE have benefited from Annual Fund support this year, underlining the Fund’s attempts to enhance the student experience outside of the classroom.
Projects supported include the LSE Ambassadors For Sport programme which encourages the School’s elite athletes to combine their pursuit of their chosen sport with their LSE education. Meanwhile the LSESU Rowing Club has undergone a modernisation which has seen it acquire three new boats for its men’s, women’s and coaching crews. Elsewhere an indoor cricket league and a women’s volleyball team were established at the School for the first time with the help of Annual Fund support.
Many current LSE students are setting high standards in sport: in 2012/13, three were selected for the GB fencing Olympic squad, GB men’s under-23 rowing and senior squads and the England under-20s rugby squad. Through the Ambassadors For Sport initiative, athletes share their achievements with their fellow students at the School and demonstrate how involvement in sport need not compromise academic success, and can in fact complement it. In return the initiative is able to provide financial support, via the Annual Fund, for expenses incurred in pursuing their sport, such as training, equipment and travel costs.
“LSE is not known as a sporting university but does attract a small number of elite athletes,” said Deputy Chief Executive of the LSE Students’ Union, Jarlath O’Hara. “Winning a place in a national squad takes much personal dedication, but it also involves costs that are hard for students to meet without support. Additionally, given the academic pressures on LSE students, the importance of sport and other activities to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle is increased. By sharing these students’ achievements, the project adds to the whole community spirit, while allowing for an immediate flexible response to student athletes in need of support.”
Three new boats were acquired by the rowing club: one ‘eight’ for the women’s crew, who also received a new seat of oars; one ‘four’ to be shared by both the men’s and women’s crews; and a new coaching launch boat and engine. “We are extremely grateful to the Annual Fund for their contribution to the essential infrastructure needed for our club to enjoy a successful future,” said project leader and men’s captain, Benjamin Thies, who cited the club’s record membership of 230 students, staff and alumni as necessitating the modernisation. “It has allowed us to increase the club’s capacity to engage a larger part of the LSE’s student body, and allowed us to be more competitive with other universities. Its positive impact will be felt for many years to come as we seek to fulfil our long term goal of maximising our ability to represent LSE at national and international regattas.”
The LSESU Cricket Club first applied for Annual Fund support due to its inability to provide training facilities for inexperienced or first-time players who do not initially meet the standards of the first team. The establishment of the LSESU Indoor Cricket League has enabled over 40 members to take part in competitive cricket, many for the first time. “Only due to Annual Fund support have we managed to raise the profile of the club at the university, increase awareness and involvement in the sport and offer opportunities that most other clubs do not offer,” said club captain, Karan Shirgaokar.
The women’s volleyball team attracted just short of 40 participants in its first month, eventually taking part in the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) League and the BUCS Cup, reaching the quarter finals. In addition, the side participated in the University College Dublin Blitz Tournament, described by project leader Gavin Yap as the ‘highlight of the year’. Annual Fund support enabled the LSESU Volleyball Club to hire courts and equipment.