10 minutes with: Chris Millar, GUSA President

Beatrice Cook

Following on from the recent GUSA elections on the 8th of March, to which over a thousand students voted on who will take on the mammoth task of running Glasgow University’s sport, the Glasgow Guardian got to chat to outgoing GUSA President, Chris Millar, and asked him about his thoughts on the past year.

Guardian: What were your personal sporting highlights of this year?

Millar: It would be stupid not to mention the Glasgow Taxis Cup.  We’ve won it three years in a row, and five years out of nine that it’s been running, which separates the tie between Strathclyde and Glasgow. The [winning] margin was one point in the last two years; it really came down to the line.

Guardian: Was there a big student turnout at the Glasgow Taxis Cup?

Millar: It was down in the Emirates Arena, and we put on buses for folk to get there and back, so there was quite a few hundred who came down. It’s the biggest inter-varsity tournament in the country, which is something to be proud of in itself; 3 different universities, over 700 students, with the programme getting bigger and bigger every year, getting more students involved. It’s getting massive, the media coverage this year has been huge, and it’s recognised as being one of the biggest events in the student sporting calendar. One of the cool things was that we had some of the events held in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, where you’re going to be seeing the biggest superstars in the sporting world taking part in a couple of years in your city, and you’re in there before them, getting a feel for it.

It’s hard to compare ourselves directly to the City of Glasgow College, Caledonian or Strathclyde. It’s great that we can take the title of best sporting university in the city, I’m sure they do things just as well as we do, but getting the bragging rights and the upper hand over your local rivals is pretty awesome.

Guardian: Will Glasgow University be getting involved in the upcoming 2014 Commonwealth Games, held here in this city?

Millar: Yeah, one hundred per cent; the legacy aspect of 2014 is massive, and we sit on a working group on how 2014 will work hand in hand with the University of Glasgow, whether that’s going to be visits from competing athletes, or hosting other countries in our student halls, or even having tickets or volunteering opportunities for students. It’s very exciting.

Guardian: What, if any, pressures will the incoming President face in the approaching academic year?

Millar: There is the closure of the Kelvin Hall, but there are strategies in place for overcoming that so members can use other facilities, and with the transport we have, we can accommodate that, as well as having the gym extension is on its way. There’s still no closure date, but it is probably going to happen this year.

Guardian: There has been a definite focus on health and wellbeing this past year – why the drive behind that?

Millar: There has been a bigger recognition in the importance of health and fitness, as well as physical and mental welfare within sport. It’s not all about performance sport, competitions or leagues, there’s so much more outside of that. So, alongside the new council structure, with our welfare convener and health and fitness convener, there’s more of a say on the strategies to include everyone, and it’s gone really well. For instance we have the buddy system, dietary information, as well as a constant reviewing of the exercise classes on offer at the University of Glasgow; if members are saying they are happy, we’ll try and develop that, if they’re not, we would try to change it. We try and do everything as well as we possibly can.

Guardian: What is your opinion on the Stevenson Hive Building Project?

Millar: I’m very excited for the developments and shared space we’re going to have at Glasgow University. I would say that there certainly will be an increase in membership price, but that will be matched with increased service levels and facilities, as well as having the latest equipment and space to train, instead of having to queue and not get into an exercise class. There will be a lot more to offer, and I think we will still have the most competitive membership price in the whole of Scotland, if not the UK. Value for money will still be right up there.

Guardian: What are your final thoughts as outgoing President?

Millar: This year we had the Glasgow Championships, which introduced recreational leagues for clubs including squash, football, badminton and hockey, where staff and students could get involved on a weekly basis, and we had huge levels of members using that which was great.

GUSA have got club level, recreational level and elite athletes as well as a health and fitness push, and our members seems really happy and engaging with us a lot. I think that this year for GUSA, having just won the Glasgow Taxis Cup, has gone from strength to strength, and with new facilities on the way, as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2014, it’s exciting times for sport in Glasgow, we’re in a good place right now.