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UCC Sports Strategy 2019-2022 – A statement of intent?

Last February the most ambitious sporting project that the University has ever undertaken was launched. Titled the ‘The UCC Sports Strategy 2019-2022’, it is one of the first of its kind in Ireland. The University Express touched on this project during the Fresher’s edition and now it is time for a more in-depth look.What does it involve and what will it mean for sport in UCC?

The project’s vision is to be “ the globally renowned go-to University for sport and physical activity in Ireland.” It is a huge statement of intent and shows how valuable sport is in UCC. There are six main areas which the strategy is focusing on including the development of world class facilities, maximising the UCC brand and to ultimately create and maintain a culture of success in the University. This looks very well on paper but how will this be achieved?

Before we continue, one could argue that there are many positives in this strategic plan when it comes to structures and making the University a healthier place. The plan outlines the desire to enable those on a competitive level to maintain a healthy balance between study and sport. The new Sports Leadership Team which is being touted will bring some of the brightest minds in sport and academia in the country together which is hugely exciting. A plan is nothing unless the right people are implemented to execute it and it looks
like UCC have got it right on this one. The new leadership team will include the General Manager of the Mardyke Arena, the Director of Sport in UCC, Head of the School of Education and President of the Students Union. This makes for a very diverse team where if communication is effective, it can have a huge impact on sport in UCC.

For many people who are into sport for recreational purposes and not necessarily high performance, they will be mainly interested in the first part of the vision, the facilities. This part of the plan indicates the desire to build a new state of the art sports centre in Curraheen replacing ‘the farm’. The service will 00be similar to that of the Mardyke Arena with plans to develop new rugby, soccer and hockey pitches and possibly a new gym. There are some questions to be asked here however, many would argue that the ‘big four’ sports in UCC are given preference over other sports. The big four being rugby, soccer, GAA and hockey. Those from other sporting backgrounds such as tennis and swimming to name a few could ask where is the honey pot for them. UCC arguably already has top class facilities for the main sports, judging by their success in recent years ( Sigerson and Fitzgibbon double in GAA and Collingwood Cup in soccer in 2019 alone), and it is time for other sports to get a helping hand. Morgan Buckley, Head of Sport in UCC was asked for a comment on this but alas a reply never came.

While there is no question that the UCC Sports Strategy is an ambitious step and one that is exciting when it comes to promoting physical activity , to say that it is a statement of intent is more questionable when so many of those in minority sports are left to go cap-in-hand to clubs around the city to use their facilities. Nonetheless, results are an important part of any sport and that is ultimately what this strategy will be judged on.