Checking in on the SA Series: SA Sports Officer

As we approach the end of the semester, IGNITE presents a new series- Checking in on the SA, where we interview the Student Association Executives on their progress so far. This week, we talked to Omar El Shweekh- the current Sports Officer.

One semester has already passed (in your tenure), how do you feel and what would you think is your greatest achievement?

Omar: At the moment, the greatest achievement has not yet been achieved. There is a new sports plan just being implemented about a month ago. It is a base for us to improve the university team and sports involvement of the university in general. This is my main target to be honest. However, smaller achievements like the sports carnival before the Clubs and Societies Fair, giving opportunities to sports clubs to showcase themselves helped to recruit more members. This definitely had a good impact for the clubs. Nations Cup this year had a lot of changes like the medal-giving ceremony right after games and closing ceremonies in the Great Hall. A couple of minor setbacks but these small goals are already there and major goals are coming.

Regarding Nations cup, there were mixed responses from UNMC Confessions/Expressions. What are your thoughts on this?

Omar: Depending on the comments, for example the comment on Redbull and first-aiders, I took these seriously. Redbull were not available so they came only on the last 2 days. For the first aid issue, I had already set a schedule with them but some setbacks happened and they couldn’t make it. I compensated it by getting help from the Sports Complex’s help. If the comments would help improve the event or improve my work, like the comment about the gym and me no updating myself, that’s why we had the Facebook page for each executive to show what  they are doing. If the comment doesn’t help, I wouldn’t even read it to be honest.

What are the biggest challenges/difficulties you faced when trying to do your job as a Sports Officer?

Omar: One, major challenge is definitely compensating between studies and work. Besides, I’m also playing for the university team and against outside teams. Two, the major problem is that most students do not know what we (Student Association) are doing. That is one of the main reason we have the Facebook page. To be honest, only 33% of students voted, the rest does not even know that I exist. Reaching out to these students is a major challenge for me. I want to get them to feel comfortable voicing out their problems regarding the sports facilities because I cannot inspect every single facility like the gym because I myself do not go to the gym.

In your manifesto, you pledged to organize an inter-departmental sports event, maintaining the sports facilities, and assist clubs to obtain more funding. Some funding is already in progress. Regarding inter-departmental sports event, School of Engineering has a small, similar event ongoing. Would this affect any of your plans?

Omar: The inter-faculty tournament has already been decided. It will not only include sports, I will collaborate with the SA Education Officer to include other games. It should include all the major faculties and foundation. So far, the format has not been finalised but there will be qualifiers in the faculty where the best team will represent the faculty. It’s going to be like Nations Cup but for faculties.

The Sports Office Team. Photo credit: SA Sports Officer Facebook Page

Is there anything you would do differently if you could?

Omar: I’m pretty happy with what I have done so far. But if I could, I would like the fix the problems that happened during the Nations Cup like first aiders, opening and closing ceremonies. More practice were needed for the ceremonies. But other than that, I am happy with what I have done.

Regarding issues during Nations Cup, what are your comments or explanations on the unclear rules and regulations and the controversial issue with the UK team?

Omar: Rules and regulations for all sports were crystal clear, it was sent to all students in an email before the registration. Each club president submitted his sport rule and the reps and ambassadors were notified with the rules before the registration as well so there were no issues regarding that.

Regarding the UK female volleyball team, accusations were made and there isn’t much of an issue to begin with. The team had a player that did not hold a UK citizenship or passport and an unofficial complaint was made on the day when semi-finals was to be held about this player. I had to take immediate action because a specific name had already been given. I did approach the entire team to clarify the issue to discover that indeed the player did not qualify to play. Besides, the unqualified player is from the UK campus but not a UK citizen or a British passport holder. However, the post on UNMC Confessions accused me of using racial phrases. Efforts by my team of organizers were undermined by their untruthful actions which I feel is uncalled for.

Do you have anything to add before we end this session?

Omar: This is to all students, I run for this post is to represent all of you, to be your voice. We need to work together, if we are not working together, we cannot achieve anything. For example, if 1 voice goes to the management and say the gym is not working, they are not going to do anything. I need people to back me up. Sports clubs alone is not enough, I still need the students to reach the maximum level of satisfaction for sports.

Interviewed and written by Bervyn Tan Qin Chyuan

"They say that great minds think alike, but also fools seldom differ"

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