Ollie Watt tells it how it is, and pulls no punches when suggesting the University’s footballers need free time to play their games. Momentum is key in football, and this is a rarity at the University of Sunderland. Players feel lectures and seminars are difficult to miss on a match days.
Stress descends onto the shoulders of President Watt, it’s a guarantee that at least one player drops out of a squad at the last minute, resulting in frantic phone calls constantly being made on a Wednesday morning to recruit possible replacements. Sunderland are the only university in the North East that do not timetable lectures and seminars around their sports team’s matches.
With on-going words being exchanged on the matter, Watt hopes for a Wednesday without lectures and seminars, In order to help the number of players available on match days to rise. As a member of the Student’s Union Daniel Punch raises the issue often in their meetings, as well as mentioning the matter while running for election into the union.
It is time for a change to the training schedule. One of the most important days of the week for Watt is Monday. The only chance the teams get to train and work on plans for their upcoming games is on a Monday evening. This makes it difficult to compete against opposition sides who train two or three times in between games. An extra training session would be valuable in preparation.
As President, Watt has taken on the roles of picking all the squads for the University’s matches, organising trials and answering any inquiries from the players, but stressful Wednesday’s were not on the list. As soon as the whistle goes to start the game, stress is released and Watt transforms into a midfield general in the middle of the pitch.
Once the match begins Watt’s biggest problem becomes the lack of balls on the side lines, after they are ballooned over the fence and into Silksworth’s quarry, never to be retrieved.
Since Watt’s involvement with university football he has played on some dreadful pitches in Sunderland, but the change to a state of the art 3G pitch at Silksworth sports complex allows free flowing football in all weather conditions. The same bright orange kit has been worn for three years with no signs of change. At least that guarantees no kit clashes with the opposition.
Bavaria is in his sights once the match is over. A plethora of delicious free food on offer for the players from southern fried chicken to sausage rolls before a night out in Sunderland until the early hours of the morning.
Despite drawbacks Watt said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure, almost all of my friends at university have come through the football society.” For Watt and the players, football comes to a halt as Christmas approaches.
The hard work will restart in the New Year, with just five wins from a possible 23 across all four men’s teams so far this season. A change on the timetables for Watt and the players could change their fortunes, key players featuring in all matches may see more wins for the University of Sunderland’s men’s footballers.