The ‘Association Sportive’ Elections

The AS Phoenix will be reborn today.

(click on image for full size )

As election day draws near, students of the Le Havre Campus of Sciences Po will have nearly finished forming their opinions on the plethora of candidates competing for their favor. In the interest of keeping the citizenry informed, we have asked all ten Association Sportive (AS) candidate two questions, sourced from the association themselves. They reflect the greatest concerns of the current AS members, who have a better understanding of the reality of association life than anyone else on campus, about the future success of the association. These questions about the duties, functioning and main challenge of the Association are as follows:

  1. Leading our campus to victory is one of the pivotal objectives of the AS. However, we have very limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time. In your opinion, what should be the AS role in improving the situation, so as to better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit?
  2. In your perspective, what is the biggest challenge the AS will face during your mandate and how do you propose to sort it out?

According to the Sciences Po Le Havre campus official website, the AS is a permanent association under the 1901 French law. Its mission is to create an active and inclusive athletic community on campus, but also to facilitate access to health services in Le Havre. During the year, it is to organize friendly matches with the Université du Havre and other local teams. At the end of the year, it is to present teams to compete in the Minicrit, or Collégiades de SciencesPo, an athletic and artistic competition between all Sciences Po Paris undergraduate campuses.

These are the bare bones of AS duties, but as the students are well aware, our association members do so much more. From providing us with our beloved blue hoodies and keeping the lunch-room stocked with tea, to coordinating the Ski-Trip, WEIS, and Minicrit, all while continuously boosting campus moral, it is now up to us to ensure that the baton of responsibility is passed on to the right combination of five dedicated and able students. The spirit of Achilles Shields must be reincarnated much like the Phoenix in its logo. To aid in this collective decision making, we have based the article below on the answers of all ten candidates to our two questions.

1 – Leading our campus to victory is one of the pivotal objectives of the AS. However, we have very limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time. In your opinion, what should be the AS role in improving the situation, so as to better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit?

  • Coordinating club captains, locations and coaches:

To better facilitate the preparation of the teams for Minicrit, the candidates all seem very focused firstly, on coordinating clubs to help captains find coaches and places to practice. Léa Leyfsword states that “The AS should make the connexion between sports captains and venues easier so that they can book fields more often when they need it and therefore be better prepared for the Minicrit. It should also make it easier for anyone who wants to start a club to find a coach and place.” Miyu Shu also states that “the AS needs to continue working towards establishing long-term relations and networks around Le Havre with local sports facilities, schools, and universities!” Yuqin Luo continues “AS will have a supportive role to the clubs. The association should support clubs by helping sports clubs to find ways to extend their training time and to negotiate with the gyms. Despite negotiating with gyms, we are also going to provide plan Bs such as organizing running sessions for the sports clubs and people on our campus. What the AS should and can do is not to help clubs be better at sports but to provide them with a good environment that they can improve.”

Kalinka Le Goff also reminds us of the key role the AS has in helping organize a sports schedule free of clashes, so that our students may involve themselves in as many sports as they please. Kokoro Osada summarizes and highlights the issue by stating: “One of the main concerns that we had at the beginning of the year with the sports teams were to begin the practices itself. The captains were responsible for everything from finding a coach and reserving a field. The AS should lighten these burden (…) Practices are sometimes canceled, often due to a sudden change in the schedule of the field or the court. The AS could work against this by helping the captains prepare an alternative time and location. I also think that a list of all sports teams and its location/time of the training should be made for clarification. The AS could work somewhat as a headquarter for all the sports teams in the school.” Finally, Marius Andioc values taking action as soon as the year begins: “what could have been done to coordinate clubs for the Minicrit with regular meetings could be done from the beginning of the year to be sure that everything goes in the right direction.”

  • Boosting Student Involvement:

Finding coaches became a difficulty for the AS last year when the SciencesPo administration decided that sports credits would only be accorded to clubs with a professional coach. This purely bureaucratic and insurance-related decision put many successful clubs with no need for external help behind in their organization and training. Furthermore, none of the Le Havre dance clubs are eligible to be credited. In future, this may lead to waning participation. Indeed, assiduity has visibly decreased in the institutions that are Bollywood and Chinese Dance. The new AS, like the old, with have to work harder than others in the past to keep our divers, LH specific clubs alive. Most candidates pledged themselves to increasing involvement in sports.

As stated by Kseniya Redka: “The main focus should be made on increasing the competitiveness of the campus and encouraging more people to join the sports clubs. This can be done through more numerous events like matches between local LH teams and ScPo, because it will give a sense of what is it like to play against others. Also perhaps by recruiting more people for participation in the sports clubs, captains will be able to form more of smaller teams during the practice to compete against each other. For the Minicrit team, establish clear attendance guidelines and set the objectives of each session, as well as providing AS with the evaluation of the course progress on the regular basis (every quarter of the semester).” Marius Andioc also emphasizes the importance of campus spirit: “a big part of AS job would be preparing next year’s minicrit by advertising students about it, how it matters for the campus, club commitment when you’re part of a team etc.” Finding ways to increasing budget is also one of the main solutions, along with increased coordination between team captains, practice locations, and coaches, to limited access to resources in terms of venue, coaching and training time.

Candidate Marcus Cheah commented on the link between this involvement and association finance: “I feel like in the long term for major future developments, we will require a certain increase of funding to solve the problem of limited resources, however, that only would be made possible if our teams are able to prove that we are worth acquiring those funding. So, it becomes a cycle of how we would need more funding and resources to get more victories, and we would need more victories to deem ourselves worthy of more funding. Hence, my opinion is that AS’s role starts from raising the athletic spirit on campus in order to encourage everyone’s full participation on sports teams. Also, I would like to strive for more casual pickup matches with everyone on campus at accessible locations like the beach basketball, volleyball courts etc., such that everyone could get more into sports.”

  • Making the most of the AS budget:

But an inexpensive way to increase the amount of training for a little fee is to compete against local student teams more often. As stated by Hiroki Yamashita: “A.S role is to be a resource for sports and health for everyone. Considering preparation for Minicrit, the sports team in Sciences Po currently has two major problems. One is lack of participation and the other is lack of training time. The first problem roots form the fact that we don’t really have practice games in a competitive way other than WEIC and Minicrit which leads lack of motivation. Thus, A.S. can negotiate to set a practice game with other schools such as the University of Le Havre.” Léa Leyfsword also believes that the “AS has to be an intermediate with the other student sport committees of LH in order to organise joint events (eg. Match amicaux) with other student teams in LH (or amateur teams like the Dieselles in feminine rugby for example),” along with Miyu Shu: “The AS can make sure to lend a hand to the captains in this respect and become the bridge between our sports teams and the teams of other universities in LH!” The benefits of the policy are also emphasized by Mia Raichon: “most of all, what I want is to organize sportive events and meetings between our teams and those of other schools in the city or LH university. As a beginner in rugby this year, I progressed and understood the game a lot more during the WEIS than during the whole first part of the semester. Then, put teams in a situation with some “LH tournaments” should make our teams ready to beat all the other campuses, without getting in trouble with the admin!”

The question of increasing budget come down to lobbying the administration and is therefore not entirely in the power of the AS. We therefore greatly appreciate the alternative suggestions by all candidates. Mia Raichon states that “It’s clear that there are huge differences between campuses concerning the place occupied by sport in the academic path. But what is a the core of success and victory is the motivation of players, and it’s something that LH has. So, what we need is more training opportunities for sports teams all along the year. The truth is that high-sport-level is not coming by itself, and team-sport captains can’t do everything alone to lead their team to victory. I really want to talk to the administration team about increasing the sports budget. But, I guess that previous AS has already tried and we still don’t have enough infrastructures, coaches or afternoon reserved for sport yet as other campuses (Nancy for example). If we face another refusal from the admin, then we still can do some simple things to make the difference. Thus, the AS role should be to help captains to organize some extra-practices, or why not professional-game-screenings with all the team to work on the technicality of a specific sport, determine strategies etc.”

Hiroki Yamashita continues: the “cheerleading team is managing to have more than one practice a week, while most of the other clubs have only one. So it is possible to manage both school work and several practices a week. But when this problem is due to training place or resource, the team has chosen to work out or do the weights if they want to have more practice. However, SciencesPo does not have the equipment. Thus A.S can help the team by providing a training equipment or training menu which uses only one’s body in order to make it easier to have more than one practice a week.”

Overall, candidates will need to focus on coordinating club captains, locations, and coaches, boosting student involvement and making the most of the AS budget whether they manage to increase it or not. But keep in mind that once again, these are the bare bones of As responsibilities, and a successful AS must be willing to go above and beyond.

2 – In your perspective, what is the biggest challenge the AS will face during your mandate and how do you propose to sort it out?

Marcus Cheah cites having enough participation to boost the budget: “I think the biggest challenge we will face is the exact problem of not having enough money to carry out our events, whether it is due to students not willing to cooperate and pay assoc fees, or because the school is not providing sufficient funding. Which is why, I propose to enforce the policy of “no fees paid, means no activity participation allowed”. On top of that, I hope that by starting off events small with lower expenses and in more of a “pilot scheme” form; and as times go by we will accumulate more funding and participants would gain more interest. Then, more money could be focused on producing a full form of that event in the end that is better organized and in-depth than the previous pilot one. This ensures more participation in the event as long as less financial problems and issues.” Furthermore, as Marius Andioc states: “It depends on which scale we think. The minicrit is going to be of course a huge challenge for the AS, and then what I propose could be applied. However, on a more student life scale, the AS presence is another big challenge to sort out. AS could organize more often events related to a sport that could include everybody: athletes, people who are not into sports to make them get along with it, curious people etc. “Sports discovery” events, which would consist in making discover a sport to people every one or two months.” Hiroki Yamashita focuses on general organizational aspects: “A.S organizes many events such as “amazing race” at the beginning of the year and the amount of the work increases especially before those events. The biggest challenge that A.S will face is the time deadline to organize the events. Especially events that require payment needs interaction with other students before the event and it could be a one reason for delay of the work of A.S. To improve the situation, A.S can post a calendar which shows upcoming events and payment deadline for those event and make the interaction between the association and students smooth by providing clear view of what kind of events associations are planning.”

The majority of candidates by far, however, mention the Minicrit as the greatest challenge to face the AS during their mandate. It is our opportunity to shine as a campus and showcase not only our artistic and athletic abilities on home-turf but also our city, Le Havre, as well as our creativity and dedication, organizing around challenges. Léa Leyfsword, Kokoro Osada, and Kseniya Redka both plan to overcome this challenge with a methodical approach to the problem, with early preparation, a clear schedule and an even distribution of tasks. Kalinka Le Goff instead emphasizes the teamwork aspect of planning this event: “we will sort it out by working as a team, sharing our ideas and our expectations.” Mia Raichon also focuses on the MiniCrit as our greatest challenge, and cites her experience biking at a National and European level, “ I admit that I haven’t ever organized such a huge event but I know from my experience what are the expectations of a competitor. (…) Before I felt lucky to represent my country as a competitor, now I would be so proud to represent my campus as an organizer.” Miyu Shu offers a focus on teamwork, funding, and organization as solutions suggested concerning what she tentatively called “SushiCrit.”Furthermore, in addition to negotiating training times, and organization like the aforementioned candidates, Yuqin Luo would focus on having high-quality communication, and “Reduce cost or earn more. Reduce cost can be in two ways: find cheaper resources and find a resource (might need as to help promote as well and if we do so we might have a permission). Earn more in two ways: set a portable market and sell drinks, snacks and souvenirs or to provide discount plans to campuses(like entrance fee in addition to a plan for drinks and snacks)”

After reading these interview answers, along with the candidate manifestos and posters, we hope the campus will feel more informed as a citizenry and will be more confident in when casting their ballots on Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM. In the words of Loretta Lynch, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, our country (university) and this world.”

Emma Dailey is a French-American second year student at Sciences Po Paris, Campus du Havre.

Author: Le Dragon Déchaîné

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