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Club Sports: Pay to Play

Although the women’s hockey team has been reinstated with varsity status for the 2018-19 season, other competitive club teams have not been so lucky. This poses the question: with no varsity funding, how do athletes participating in these sports continue to pursue their passion?

In 2008, the Varsity Reds cut support from the women’s hockey team, men’s swimming, both wrestling teams and the cross country team in order to increase funding for men’s hockey and women’s swimming, basketball, volleyball and soccer.

These teams were added to the list of club sports at UNB—teams with limited funding from the university who are often forced to fundraise most—if not all—of their practice and competition budget on their own. Curling is one such team which, despite its funding situation, has been successful in both regional and national competitions.

“We’ve gone to the national championships every year for the last four, three times on the women’s side and once on the men’s side,” said Natalie Hearn, the president of the UNB Curling Club. “For the last two years that I have been president, we have had to search for ways to fund our travel and competition expenses.”

“Through fundraising and support from the [the UNB Student Union] and URec, we have been able to travel for nationals in the past few years—but if we didn’t have their support, then we would have two choices: pay out of pocket, or lose the opportunity that we worked so hard to get.”

In most cases, competitive clubs can qualify for funding from URec and the UNBSU; however, they must be registered in advance in order to receive this (often partial) funding. Hearn said that in order for them to compete, they needed to pay both the Atlantic University Sport and USport fees—only one of which was covered by URec, the managing body of UNB’s various competitive clubs.

URec’s  manager of sport recreation programs, James Cress, was unavailable for comment by the time of publication.

The UNBSU strives to provide funding processes that promote equitable funding opportunities for all varieties of groups ratified under the UNB Student Union—including but not limited to club sport teams,” said Grayson Beairsto, UNBSU vice-president of finance and operations.

“Of about 100 groups ratified with the union, around 20 of them are sport groups,” said Beairsto.

Sport clubs received approximately 18 per cent  of the total clubs and societies funding during the 2016-17 academic year. This funding was put towards various needs of these groups, such as travel, conference fees and social events.

This money is also subject to processing by the UNBSU finance committee, which determines how much money a group will receive based on need, the widespread benefit to students and if the group has previously reached out for funding.

Beairsto also says that the union encourages sport clubs to seek alternative funding from areas of the university, such as URec.

The process of informing groups, including sport clubs, of alternative funding has improved since the introduction of Primary Event Organizer (PEO) training as part of the campus-wide initiative to streamline and increase safety in the planning of student led events. Every ratified group under the UNBSU must have a certified PEO in order to receive funding, and every PEO is informed of the different funding opportunities that are available on campus.


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