Ahead of your adventure in Newcastle, we thought we’d sit down and have a quick chat with Benthe Tanghe, the AU Officer for 2020/21.
Benthe is your main port of call on everything sport related. As Athletic Union Officer, she oversees all our 65 sport clubs and is here to ensure that the voices and opinions of those participating in sport are heard and represented.
If you could give one piece of advice for Freshers going to Newcastle this year what would it be and why?
It is quiet cliche, considering my role, but my advice would be to get involved in as many opportunities as you can, including getting involved in sport. Obviously with COVID going on and guidelines changing all the time, it is and will be challenging. It’s not going to be anything like we’re used to. But my advice would be, where possible, just get involved in sport.
Even if you don’t think you like sport that much it’s much more than just the competitive side – we also have a lot of socials and fun things. It’ll mainly be down to what can go ahead, but it’s a great way to make new friends and a great opportunity to pick up a new sport or excel in a sport you already play. Perhaps more importantly, in these strange times, it’s fantastic for your mental and physical well-being.
What advice would you give to Freshers who are unsure about getting involved in sport?
Try and get out of your comfort zone where possible. It’s very easy in times like this to isolate yourself, even if you’re an extroverted person. I can imagine that for Freshers coming in the opportunities to meet new people will be different than normal, so again, sports is a fantastic way to meet new people in a calm and welcoming environment.
You should try and stay in contact with home as much as possible as well, and you friends, old and new, as well, as it can be very daunting during your first semester. NUSU is hear to help, and they offer their ‘Give It A Go’ programme, which allows students to try a variety of different sports and activities without fully committing.
What sports facilities in Newcastle would you recommend for Freshers?
The gym facilities we have on campus are great, it’s £75 for a yearly pass. However, I realise that the gym might not be something that everyone likes or feel comfortable with. We luckily live in an amazing city and personally I enjoy going for a walk or a run at the Quayside. Another lovely venue to go for a walk is Jesmond Dene. Going for a walk is a great way to exercise and gets you out of the house.
How will Uni sport be affected by COVID?
It changes all the time. As it stands right now we have to assess it for each different sport, which takes a lot of time. As a University and SU our main advice is that anything allowed by the government is allowed by us. At the end of the day, however, it really is a changing cycle.
Best places to go to in Newcastle during the day?
I love Newcastle City Centre. It’s very difficult to pick one place because there’s so much to do, although if I had to pick one it would be Quayside. During lock-down, while going on walks, you can discover places you’ve never been. I think there’s a good message for Freshers, in that there’s so much to do in Newcastle but it isn’t necessarily a big place. That’s what makes Newcastle special.
What were you first impressions of Newcastle as a city
I felt ‘at home’ right away. I didn’t know a lot about Newcastle when I first came over, I think I only had seen some images on google of the University and the bridges. As I came here as part of an exchange programme, all I had seen from the UK was London. When I arrived though, I went for a walk in town and immediately felt ‘at home’.
What advice would you give to foreign students, like you were, travelling to Newcastle for the first time?
Try to meet new people right away. I had great international friends and some of them I still talk to. I think the reason I’m still here is I joined a sports club and I got to meet people from the UK. It definitely gets you into the culture and you get to appreciate where you live. Especially when you speak to locals, which can be scary the first time around! Simply put: try new things. Get yourself out there.
Could you tell Freshers more about the ‘Widening Participation Bursary‘?
The Participation Bursary is an important initiative in which NUSU is committed to ensure that students can take full advantage of their time here. We recognise that financial obstacles can arise which prevent students from accessing the activities we offer.
The Participation Bursary is put in place to remove these barriers to participation by helping cover some of costs in getting involved. You can apply for the bursary for support in for example, memberships costs for clubs, funding a trip or buying sports kit and equipment. More information can be found on our website.
What changes do you hope to implement while you’re an AU Officer?
My main point during the elections was to create a more accessible, inclusive and united Team Newcastle. One of the ways I’ve been working on so far this is working on more equality in our sportswear, for non-male gendered students. It seems so far that there is quite a lot of progress already, so I am excited to see where this goes. Another point I’m really passionate about is the subject mental health.
Together with Hannah (Activities Officer) I’ve been working on including more awareness for mental health problems in the Club and Society Officer training. I hope to continue this work and to create more awareness for mental health, as it so important, especially this year.
Featured Image: NUSU
Last modified: 29th September 2020