Credit: Edward Corbett

Is GUSA failing club sport?

By Anonymous

The Glasgow University Tigers tell us they experienced a disappointing lack of support from GUSA and UofG Sport last season.

For several years, traditional American sports have become more and more popular across Scotland and the UK, especially at university level, given the increase in the number of international students and exposure to these sports in Europe. American football is no different, as the Glasgow University Tigers prepare for a new season, despite suffering from a major letdown by both Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) and University of Glasgow (UofG) Sport last year. 

Firstly, the Tigers were threatened with declassification from the primary competitive university league in the UK, BUCS. This happened after the artificial field at Garscube, which the team had access to, was banned by the British American Football Association for posing a health and safety risk. The team needed all the support possible in order to survive another season. The loss of what was used as a home pitch meant that the former president of the club and the GU Tigers, had to find a new venue as soon as possible – not only to be able to finish the season, but to secure a position in the league for this year. However, in this desperate time, to not only consolidate the competitive aspect but also maintain a platform for people to participate in what could be classed in the UK as a minority sport, very little help was provided. UofG Sport either couldn’t or wouldn’t allow the club to use their grass pitches or other artificial pitches, which led to an even longer string of problems that had to be overcome. 

In an attempt to assist, a new venue was booked by UofG Sport, for the GUSA 2022 Club of the Year. Yet, a lack of communication resulted in this venue being less suitable than the pitch which the team was in the process of confirming. With the club willing to compromise and use this new pitch that had been located and organised by the University, another shock arose when the venue closed unexpectedly with less than one-week notice, leaving the team once again without a training or match venue for the remaining half of the season. 

In the midst of the mess, the club persevered, asking what should have been away teams to host the Tigers at their home venues, and the committee was forced to book pitches weekly as there was nowhere available for the team to book to train long term. 

Whilst the new season will be looking more positive for the American football team, there are still concerns over the quality of the pitches that have been secured for the start of the semester. With the hope of returning to the pitch where they played their first home game last year, the team can only pray that it is in better conditions one year on after they arrived at the venue this time last year to find it covered in glass, dog poo and torn up by motorbikes. 

There is no doubt that as a team and a club, the GU Tigers American football team have faced a significant amount of adversity in the past year, and crossed many obstacles just to participate in the sport, but the real issue lies in the hands of GUSA and UofG Sport. We must question whether these sporting bodies are doing enough to support clubs across the University. In spite of meetings with the former GUSA President and Vice President, hardly any support or advice was given to the club about what should happen next, or how to move forward after the pitch at Garscube was banned. Above that, with a role on GUSA Council earmarked specifically for assisting with club sport and ensuring that all teams are supported, it is disappointing to hear about the struggles that have been faced by the Tigers and the clear lack of structure put in place in GUSA to ensure that when these issues occur, there is a solution. 

However, with the team hopefully back on track for this year and the new season just around the corner, they can only put the stress and frustration of last year behind them and be optimistic about a chance of success this year. 

UofG Sport and GUSA have released the following joint statement regarding GU Tigers:

“2022/23 was a challenging year for Glasgow University Tigers.  GUSA and UofG Sport did all they could to work to overcome issues and help the club.  There are over 5000 students playing Club Sport at the University of Glasgow and GUSA and UofG Sport work in partnership to support each and every one of them to achieve their potential and enjoy their sport.”


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