Continuing Support for Exceptional Sport Bursars

Continuing Support for Exceptional Sport Bursars
2021-09-17

The Sports Bursary scheme assists outstanding student athletes to achieve their full potential, improves their student experience, and showcases sport, the University, and our facilities to prospective students. 

The support our bursars receive is very wide-ranging thanks to the funding we receive and includes cash awards ranging from £100 to £1000; membership at Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV); access to Strength and Conditioning training; physiotherapy vouchers; seminars on issues such as nutrition and sports psychology; yoga; exclusive sports bursar training kit i.e. bursary scheme branded clothing, and mentoring on issues related to athlete well-being. 

In 2020-21 the sports bursary scheme provided a comprehensive support package to twenty-five sports bursars and two sports scholars. Tailored to the individual needs of the students, the scheme delivered professional programming from expert staff within the University’s Sport and Exercise Team, whilst funding enhanced the scheme by affording further benefits. 

Highlights from 2020-21 included the introduction of a new virtual presence with an aim to continue support to athletes during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.  This included a new exclusive Sports Bursar area added to the online student notification board, My Aberdeen; a new Sports Psychology seminar programme with monthly group workshops, individual drop-in sessions, 1-1’s, and a Sports Psychology Facebook group; and Strength and Conditioning programmes adjusted to work-out from home. 

Adjustments were made to the programme as and when required due to government guidelines. Despite the restrictions Strength and Conditioning sessions did go ahead with back-to-back sessions of reduced numbers for social distancing up until Aberdeen Sports Village had to close its doors due to the lockdown. Sessions then resumed as lockdown eased and facilities re-opened. 

When Aberdeen Sports Village had to close, the programme supported athletes whilst they were working from home by introducing online seminars on Microsoft Teams. Topics covered included, Coping with Injuries, Periods and Performance, and Sports Psychology. The Coping with Injuries seminar was led jointly with three-time Olympian Hannah Miley, and the University’s own Sports Scholar Francesca Butler who has battled a severe injury over the last three years which has left her with a neurological disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Both Hannah and Francesca’s personal stories made for a very inspirational seminar. 

The Sports Psychology programme also introduced a 3-month long series of virtual group sessions which were followed up with drop-in clinics and a Facebook group for extra support and resources. This was a new format for the programmes Sports Psychology which enhanced the athletes learning from the seminars and is currently continuing with 1-1 sessions over the summer.  

In recent news former sports bursar Zoey Clark (2013-2017) became an Olympic star having been selected for the Tokyo Olympics this summer and performing exceptionally well in the 4x400m relay. Zoey is still an Aberdeen-based sprint athlete and still trains at Aberdeen Sports Village. She is a true inspiration for young athletes and her success helps represent the world class opportunity of sport at Aberdeen to prospective students. 

In further news fellow former sports bursar Kelsey Stewart (2015 – 2019) has swapped sprinting for the full-on winter sport of skeleton racing in bid to be part of British skeleton programme for the 2026 Winter Olympics. We look forward to seeing how Kelsey fares as she trains to ride face-down and head-first along a downhill frozen track, reaching speeds of up to 80mph. Another inspirational sportswoman. 

In an exceptional year, the funding received for the Sports Bursary scheme has proved invaluable. Our student athletes have been supported through a global pandemic where their normal training season had been completely disrupted. Unable to train with their clubs, coaches, friends, and in their own specialist facilities it would have become easy to become de-motivated. The offering of the programme’s seminars, home exercise Strength and Conditioning programmes, and other support helped to keep these students on track by reprioritising their time to concentrate on other aspects of their training which they had not done before. This helped improve the well-being of these athletes allowing them to continue to achieve as they progress through their academic career. 

On behalf of all the athletes involved in this programme the Sport and Exercise Team would like to thank the donors of the Development Trust for their invaluable support. Your donations help dreams come true.

Published by The Development Trust, University of Aberdeen

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