The FXU’s Athletic Society’s Road to Success
Scarlet Bringuenti Bennett
It has been only a year since the FXU’s Athletic Society emerged as one of the many new sports societies spread across the campus. However, thanks to the enthusiasm of the society’s president, Jamal Clarke, the club has made a name for itself.
I spoke to Clarke about why he started the society: “I used to do athletics when I was younger and I was alright, so I thought maybe I can just go back into that, so I did some research, found out where the closest track was. I had my car at the time and thought you know what? Why don’t I just make this happen?”
They have had some really impressive membership numbers in just a year. You can often see them sprawled out across the Penryn campus in grey hoodies, representing their society.
“At the end of the last academic year we had 54 paid members, we currently have 57 and we’re only just over three weeks in. Even last year we were in the top third of the biggest clubs.
“I budgeted for 20 members, then we got 54 and I thought we’re going to have to think big now.”
Last week in Exeter the society achieved their best result as a team in the South West Varsity, coming in first place. They came 8th the first time they competed at the same event.
The team have come a long way.
“I said this year we are going to come top three and we’re going to put someone down for every event and we won, which was a great achievement for us.”
Jamal has put in a lot of work to ensure that everyone in the society has felt accommodated and valued within his community. Ensuring that he supports the team emotionally as well as physically.
“I felt we needed to accommodate female athletes a lot more, so we have eight people in the committee. President, vice president, male and female track captain, male and female cross-country captain, field captain and a social sec.
“We needed a female captain because sometimes it was very difficult with the female athletes to keep them motivated and I think it was really important that they had someone that they felt like they could speak to.”
Jamal really seems to have all aspects of the team covered. And, his consideration for catering to the female athletes is very admirable.
It is valuable to the society that he understands there are various personalities to cater for.
I spoke to the ladys’ track captain, Anna Stanworth, to discuss her role in the team: ‘My main jobs are motivating the team, setting an example in terms of training and performance and being somebody for athletes to talk to/go to for help, especially the girls.”
As well as keeping the team motivated and encouraging the athletes to stay on track, as they do train four days a week, he also wants them to look good and stand out as a tight-knit team.
Stanworth seems to find this an encouraging aspect to increase motivation in the society: “We’re achieving more, winning competitions and have a whole new kit which people seem to have taken on and are already buying which is great.”
Although Jamal accepts his team is not at Loughborough standard yet, his team is not short of talented athletes.
Team-mate Tom Newman, who is also the vice president, is currently training for the Brighton Marathon next April and his next race is on 12th November, where he hopes to qualify for the County Championships.
I had a chat with Tom about the club: “In this society I have made friends who I consider like family, which almost forces me to go to training and without realising I’ve ended up performing better than I would have expected in races.”
The friendly atmosphere Jamal has created within the society seems to retain most of athletes and encourages the team to stay motivated.
He definitely recognises the importance of retention and encouragement in order to achieve results and further increase motivation.
Jamal’s next goal for the team is to hopefully make an impact at the British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS). This competition is a national event, which brings together the country’s best athletes in the country from different universities, including Loughborough and Exeter.
Jamal said: “Next we’re just looking to improve our performances in BUCS. It’s more difficult in BUCS because it’s the best of the best universities in the country and is a totally different tournament.”
Jamal is also the president of Student Experience and wants to encourage more involvement and attention towards sport, including new sports societies.
“If you have an idea, you need to try it yourself to know that you want to do it. Find 10 people who are keen, get a flow going and then just come into the office, say ‘can I speak to Jamal,’ about starting a club and I will help you start.”
Jamal Clarke Contact:
Phone: 01326 253587