InQuire Interviews Matt Harris, VP-elect for Sports

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By Chris Wallis on 18.5.2023

inQuire Interviews Matt Harris, VP-elect for Sports

As promised in the latest issue of the inQuire newspaper, we’re delighted to present writer Chris Wallis’ full interview with the VP-elect for Sport, Matt Harris.

Last term the student body elected the new sabbatical team. These full time officers are the people that represent Kent Union to the masses.

So, I caught up with the new Vice President of Sports, Matt Harris – a Law Post Graduate who’s been at Kent ever since he arrived as an Undergraduate fresher.

Ever the sportsman, Matt played for the first team for a year and became chairman of the University Football Club this year as well!

Hitting the ground running Matt wanted to quash the rumours of favouritism. “I can see the logic in peoples thinking, given my position, but it is the football club that I will be looking to scrutinise the most. So I can definitely say, that I am not about to agree to build a new football stadium, a 40 seater coach and hire Pep Guardiola just for the exclusivity of Kent FC!”

Kent FC have had their best season in history. Read all about it here:

Now as someone who is definitely looking forward to seeing Matt on the next month of my calendar I had a certain question that I wanted to get out of the way first. “I’m actually a boxer-brief man”, he says, laughing.

The idea of students doing a naked calendar to raise money has been around forever but there have been calls for the practice to stop at Kent. “I like to think that people need to keep an open mind with regard to the naked calendar and look at the underlying intentions of the project. It is all in the aid of charity and the decency is considered at all times, but at the end of the day, we are all adults…”

And I can confirm that there was in fact a Union screening process whereby some photos were changed as a result of going ‘to close to the mark’.

With the recent, Netball 1st team record setting of being promoted to the Premier League level of BUCS 1A, Matt is very keen for these athletes as well as those on other teams at a similar level to be supported. “I would like to see those athletes competing at the top of BUCS having the opportunity to have similar access to Strength and Conditioning programmes that the scholars partake in as part of their scholarship.

“Logistically, I am fully aware that Kent Sport cannot fully support every player of a 1A team, nor can everyone become a scholar alas there could be a compromise, even in the form of nutrition programmes and gym programmes for athletes to follow.”

The promotion-winning Netball first team before its Varsity game against Christchurch. Read about their unprecedented promotion success through this link:

Matt is also very keen for people who do not look to join sports clubs aware of the diverse range of sports that the university offers. “I want to create a sports welcome pack, will be give to each flat or student house with information on EVERY sport club at the university.”

Space for teams to practice is definitely something that is a major concern for sports teams and will increase to be as the new expansions will hinder normal practices. “Unfortunately, the gym extension will not be finalised until the summer of 2013. The most effective development in the short term is with the tennis court coverings that can house the netball courts, badminton courts, basketball courts and a indoor pitch for the inter college sides, giving more training time for more than just one club and freeing up the sports hall.”

There are definitely practices that will be being put in place while these expansions are taking place, such as finding space off-campus close-by.

Initiations were also on my list to ask Matt, especially when I remember my friends in the football team coming into the Venue with their ankles chained etc. “I have been a part of initiations from both sides of the event and it is not something that I would look to banish; only to set limits so that the celebrations do not become as exuberant to warrant a danger to others.”

Matt explained that the form of regulation would be through a policy that all sports clubs opt into, setting the boundaries and explaining the severity of repercussions should the mark be crossed. “Initiations have been a well known practice for centuries and are even dubbed a tradition. We are ultimately looking to protect the students and avoid initiations becoming a deterrent for new members joining.”

Matt, in action here for Kent FC, wants to rethink how sports initiations are carried out.

For any club, there’s always the desire to have a professional coach just for that week before the big game. “Coaching is a highly controversial topic, in an ideal world, we would love to be in a position to hand out budgets so that clubs could afford accomplished coaches to improve but it is not logistically feasible.”

There also seems to be a rift between clubs that have sponsorship and those that don’t. “I’d like to look at sponsorship as a whole, pushing the ideology and movement of Team Kent that could help not only the élite clubs but the smaller clubs as well.”

So with all these big plans is there a lucky lady? I thought I’d better ask the question for all you girls that flick to the sports pages. “I am indeed single at the moment, but if the right one comes along, you never know.”

So there you have it, already learning the role from his predecessor, the new sports VP is definitely stepping up to the plate…BATTER UP!


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