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By Seb Chan
Last October, LSESU received a generous sum of funding from Sport England to start the Active Lifestyle Programme. The aim is to get more students into sports. I took the prerogative to run the football section given my past experiences. The programme has offered other opportunities such as netball, squash, belly dancing and more. After two terms, I will look back with pride in my involvement with Active Lifestyle.
The Wednesday League has been an immense success. More than 100 students who otherwise would have struggled to play football have managed to find game time on a weekly basis. In addition, we ran bi-monthly drop in sessions. We also held various competitions such as the inter-halls cup, Christmas Cup and supported the Women FC in both training and running the mini-World Cup. Prior to the implementation of the Active Lifestyle, despite being the most popular sport in the world, the price to play football has really been a barrier in preventing access to sport. Such should never be the case. Personally, I still find it ludicrous that I was able to knock a ball on the streets as a little boy and yet now parents are paying premiums to send their children to academies. Whilst I have got nothing against the commercialisation of the sport, I cannot accept people being barred from playing the game especially at grassroots level. I think the Active Lifestyle programme would have no doubt improved the student experiences at LSE and long may it continue.
However, in order for this to happen, more of the LSE community needs to recognise its existence. A quick glance of the Active Lifestyle Facebook shows there are less than 200 members. When I went to a drop-in session last Friday, there are people who told me they only found out about the programme halfway through Lent term. Moving forward, I believe the AU needs to direct more people to Active Lifestyle especially if they do not have the chance to represent the university. Although there is always the social aspect of being in the AU, it is only logical to assume that one would also represent the school regularly, otherwise they really should not be in the AU.
Yet I feel the biggest problem is coming from the SU. There is a lacking in general direction coming from them as to the purposes for AU and Active Lifestyle. If people are arguing for greater inclusion for the AU then they really should try and integrate them in the programme rather than having them to pay membership which they do not benefit from it. To me, it seems that the SU are so focused on other matters, they seem to have forgotten that student experiences outside the classroom are important. James Ralph who has done immense amount of work in terms of liaising and running all the events is also under supported by the Union. I hope the SU would in future give him more support. On a personal level, one of my biggest regret was never being able to engage more female students in giving football a go.
On a lighter note, I would like to thank James for his hard work to make the League and drop-ins possible. I would also like to congratulate Bankside for taking home the overall Wednesday League in unbeaten fashion (photo) and Comparative Ballatics FC, ABACUS and Hackrington Stanley in winning their respective mini-leagues.