Eliot K. Raman Jones | Sports Editor
Alex Parry was elected as President of Royal Holloway Men’s Football Club in May 2020, after serving as Treasurer for the last academic year. Sports Editor Eliot Raman Jones spoke to him about what Men’s Football is all about, the club’s aims for next season, and the issue of inclusivity in team sports at Royal Holloway.
Could you tell me a bit about what first attracted you to the role?
Alex Parry: I saw the direction that I wanted to lead the club in, and I knew I was going to be here for next year, so I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’
What’s the best reason to join Men’s Football at RHUL? If you’re a fresher and you’ve just seen it on the list of sports teams, what’s the reason that puts it above the rest?
AP: Firstly, it’s football, it’s the most popular sport in the world, everyone loves it. We welcome everyone who comes in, no matter who you are, no matter what you are. We try and train as much as we can, we try and play as much football as we can, we try to do as many socials and include as many people in the socials as we can.
There have been claims made that the high price of memberships to team sports such as football deters people from joining. I was wondering if you could shed some light on how funding and finance work running a club at Royal Holloway?
AP: The SU see football as a fairly financially stable club, so they say that we don’t need the money and give it to other clubs who do. It’s not nice for us to have to charge these high prices, but it’s what we have to do so the club can survive. Last year we started a new way of helping people to pay, which we broke down into Tier One and Tier Two for First Term and Second Term respectively, to help people who couldn’t pay it all in one lump sum. We’re looking for new ways next year to help people work for their membership too. We usually hire referees on Saturdays, and they don’t have to be qualified, so we’re looking at that as a way for new members to earn money to pay back to the club.
Moving onto the current issue of inclusivity in sport at RHUL, do you think that there are obstacles that discourage people from joining football? What do you think these are and how might they have an impact on inclusivity and accessibility?
AP: I think we are one of the most culturally diverse clubs at the university, but I think every single club can do better. I saw someone on Overheard saying that just wearing rainbow laces and little things like that make people feel more welcome. It is also hard to join football because the trial period is so demanding, and we have to be so strict about it because there’s so many people who want to join. We typically have 30, 40, 50 people at the club who will be here next year, so we can only take 30, 40, 50 new people in, and we have roughly 200 new people apply every year.
How will the club continue to tackle these issues?
AP: It is very hard just to change the whole culture of the club, and the whole view of Men’s Football. Some people when they think of Men’s Football think of the social people from the team and what they’re like on a night out, and think that that’s what the whole club is. We’re not all like that. Moving forward, I want everyone to think that they are all part of the club, and other people to look at football as a complete unit, rather than just a few people. It’s also very intimidating if you’re a fresher to see the ten or so popular and social football players hanging out in the same corner of the SU and then wanting to become a part of that club.
What are the club’s goals for this next academic year? What are you hoping to achieve by the end of your tenure?
AP: I’m hoping for trophies across every single team. Last year the 1’s won both leagues, and it’ll be hard for them to win back-to-back leagues because they’ll be in a higher division, but there’s no reason they can’t do it. The 2’s, didn’t do well enough, but have the ability to succeed. We need the organisation and the playing time to develop. Off the field, I want to do more charity events and a lot more social events to improve how close we are as a team and to make everyone feel welcome.
Finally, how would you sum up Men’s Football Club in a sentence?
AP: Men’s Football is one of the nicest, friendliest places to be, and has all the highs and lows of any club, but you can still come off the pitch after a bad game with a smile on your face.