How USW is supporting Wales’ Commonwealth Games ambitions
Students and staff at the University of South Wales (USW) have played a major role in this year’s Commonwealth Games, which is being held in and around Birmingham between 28 July and August 8.
As the only University in Wales which has a partnership with Commonwealth Games Wales (CGW), USW has been working together with CGW on its key themes for the 2022 event - to support and encourage a focus on youth and sustainability, address key concerns about the environment, and use the power of sport and community to improve levels of physical activity across the country.
USW Vice-Chancellor Dr Ben Calvert said: “We are delighted that once again USW has been able to support Commonwealth Games Wales with its preparations for this year’s Games in Birmingham.
“Being involved in two stops on the Queen’s Baton Relay route has helped us to highlight the work we do with our partners, and put the focus on one of the key elements of our 2030 Strategy - the push for a more sustainable future.
“By offering our fashion students the chance to develop sustainable clothing for use by Team Wales, the partnership has been able to give them an understanding of one of the future needs of their chosen career, while the stop at our USW Hydrogen Centre in Baglan has put the focus on the vital role renewable energy will play in driving the economy of Wales and the wider world.
“The broader support we offer to athletes through our sports psychology expertise, and the real-life work experience our students provide in supporting the Commonwealth Games Wales planning team, further strengthens the partnership.
“We hope these successes are mirrored by Welsh athletes in the Games, and look forward to seeing their efforts turned into appearances on the winners’ podium.”
Chris Jenkins, CEO of Commonwealth Games Wales, said: “The partnership between USW and Commonwealth Games Wales has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with graduate interns being involved in critical elements of the Games, from the Queen’s Baton Relay, to collecting data on our athletes, marketing activities and so much more.
“These roles provide valuable employability skills and amazing experience for the students, but we also benefit from their fresh ideas and new ways of doing things, which helps us massively around how we present Commonwealth Games Wales to a younger audience.
“The tremendous expertise at the University, such as strength and conditioning support and psychology support for Team Wales, is also a massive help.
"We’d love to continue this hugely successful partnership even further in the years to come.”
The Queen’s Baton Relay
During the Welsh leg of the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay, which was held between 29 June and 3 July, two stops involved staff and students from USW.
On its route from Anglesey in the north, to Newport in the south, fashion students were involved in the Baton’s stop in Llanelli on 1 July, while the following day the Relay started from USW Hydrogen Centre in Baglan, Neath Port Talbot.
On Friday, 1 July, the Baton arrived in Llanelli for the official reveal of the Team Wales athletes’ leggings, designed by USW Fashion students Beth Jones and Olivia Soady. Working in partnership with ethical fashion brand Onesta, the students chose designs inspired by some of Wales’ greatest achievements, with the 360 pairs of leggings produced using sustainable, recycled materials.
Jasmine Joyce, Wales Women’s international rugby player, was the baton-bearer at the Llanelli event, which took place at the Onesta studio. A TV crew from S4C’s Heno programme interviewed Beth and Olivia during the evening, as well as Steven Wright, Academic Subject Manager for Fashion, Photography and Design, about the importance of sustainable practices in the fashion industry.
Baglan, Neath Port Talbot
On Saturday, 2 July, the Baton started its journey by travelling from the USW Hydrogen Centre in Baglan to Margam Park, near Port Talbot.
Dr Rhiannon Chalmers-Brown, who works in USW’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC), was the baton-bearer as it made its journey to Margam Park in a three-vehicle hydrogen-powered convoy, with the cars provided by manufacturer Riversimple. The event saw a number of VIPs meet up with USW Vice-Chancellor Dr Ben Calvert to look at how USW is working on sustainability and developing partnerships in the sector.
Sports psychology support for athletes
Professor David Shearer is supervising probationary sports psychologists undergoing their professional training, who are working with Team Wales through a MOU to support athletes in both the run up to and during the Games. Sports they are involved in include triathlon, table tennis, netball, and bowls.
There is also an ongoing project with Sport Wales Institute to help create sport environments and cultures that allow athletes to thrive, both in their sporting development and to improve their wellbeing. The partnership could develop further for competitors in future Games.
Ross Hall is providing performance psychology support to Wales Senior Women’s Hockey team in preparation for the Games.
USW and FLSE have given him time to work away with the squad as they prepare for the Games and EHF European Qualifiers in August 2022.
Internships with Commonwealth Games Wales
USW’s Placements team works across the University to identify students who may want to carry out internships with the Commonwealth Games Wales (CGW) team.
The team has developed a strong relationship with CGW and now helps interested students to apply for placements, offers support with interviews, and ensures that any questions regarding issues such as visas are answered.
For this and previous Games, students from a variety of courses have been on placement at CGW, with the subjects studied including law, computer forensics, marketing, and fashion.
Computer Forensics graduate Lauren Scobie, 22, from the Rhondda, has been involved in making sure the CGW data is managed correctly.
Working with CGW since last September, Lauren has taken on the key role of ensuring that the massive amount of information that is involved in organising the Team is properly organised.
And the opportunity Lauren has had of building on her professional expertise is one she has grasped with both hands.
“I’ve been able to get a real insight into how to manage the huge amount of information that comes through the CGW as the Games get closer, and increased my experience of helping to organise the people that this has an impact on,” Lauren said.
“I’m hoping this internship will help me develop my career, as after leaving the CGW in August I’m aiming to move into computer forensics and hopefully improve the representation of females in that sector.”
Business and Management student Charlie Morgan, 22, from Tonypandy, has worked as an Event Management intern at CGW since June 2021.
As well as being able to study part of her course through the medium of Welsh, which is her first language, Charlie took advantage of the internship opportunities available at USW.
Her internship has involved site visits with local authorities, planning meetings, security checks and data collection for CGW events, including the Queen’s Baton Relay.
“The best part of this experience, for me, has been gaining confidence in communications and planning development. I’ve never had a role where I have worked alongside so many councils, and where I get to say ‘I work for Team Wales’,” Charlie said.
“After graduating I plan to continue my internship at CGW, before saving up to go travelling.”
Business and Management student Aakshi Sharma, who is originally from India, has worked as a Marketing and Events intern at CGW since last summer.
Aakshi’s role has involved creating content for social media, capturing behind the scenes moments and interviewing athletes, as well as helping on several projects.
She chose to study at USW because of the opportunities on offer outside of the classroom.
“USW offered me more than just a degree,” Aakshi said. “Being an international student, I’ve been able to meet and interact with people from all over the world, developing my communication skills and gain new experiences along the way.
“This internship has provided me with great insight into the sport world. The best part has definitely been travelling around Wales and visiting schools. It is heart-warming to watch the children cheering on Team Wales with so much enthusiasm.
“While studying at university it is essential to get hands-on industry experience, so my advice would be to apply for that internship, go for that interview. If I can do it, so can you!”
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