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Talking COVID with Surrey Sports: An Interview with Surf Club By Clarisse Fullerton

In this first instalment of our new series, ‘Talking Covid with Surrey Sports’ in which The Stag explores the effect of Covid-19 on sport, Clarisse Fullerton talks to President of the Surf Club, Tom Fitchett about the upcoming year.

Whilst many universities have put measures in place to support sports teams in combatting the effect of Covid-19, not all clubs have benefitted from this support under the new regulations, this has left the management up to committee members to find ways of adapting. Surf is one of the main clubs that has been affected by this, as their usual planned surf trips to Newquay have been indefinitely postponed until the situation improves. Despite this, the committee have a positive outlook and they continue to uphold the friendly, optimistic reputation of Surf.

With Zoom quizzes left, right and centre at the beginning of lockdown from all university clubs and societies, Surf have upgraded their online socials to Kahoot and virtual club nights every fortnight, with even bigger, confidential plans in the works. Social secretary Anna has several exciting events planned for the year and is currently running risk assessments to be approved by the Union to ensure that members can participate in socials in a safe environment. With a regularly active group chat, Surf had plans to organize skateboarding socials on weekends once regulations allow it. It is apparent that Surf are trying their hardest to combat the aftereffects of Covid-19 by keeping their members engaged and entertained.

Additionally, society merchandise appears to be another highlight of the club, with Tom stating that their Merch & Media Trip Secretary, Beth, is working endlessly to design the best merch available on campus. With new members t-shirts in the post, they’re aiming to distribute a little Christmas spirit with the new designs- including the potential for members hoodies. In keeping with their new focus on sustainability, last year's merch is being distributed in a Covid-safe manner around campus in instalments of mini treasure hunts in which members can track down prizes hidden over Stag Hill and Manor Park, with other one-of-a-kind designs being raffled off to members.

Despite the somewhat limited options for socials, Surf engagement seems to have increased this year, averaging 100 members already compared to its 50 members at the same time last year. Tom explained that club membership has greatly benfitted from the effect of Covid-19: “previously Surf has always been a very slow build up as people tend to buy a membership right before they go on a trip and get all their mates to join”. Unlike larger socieities like Football where everyone knows what they’re signing up for, Tom believes Surf offers a different perspective on University sport as “loads of people just join for the fun of going on a trip”. The club appears to have gained a lot of interest from new freshers who hope to escape Guildford in the coming months. Regardless of rising lockdown measures, the club are looking forward to BUCs in the new year, expecting that the event will still go ahead. Although Surf is a less competitive sport, Surrey are excited to invite surfers to join them in Fistral, Newquay in April to compete on behalf of the University, or simply join for moral support. Surrey Surf has established their presence in many prime surf spots such as Cornwall and North Devon as far back as 2004 and are looking forward to returning soon once restrictions lift.

Surf's Popular Zoom Socials

Tom additionally spoke about the measures that Surf are taking during November to ensure that members are prioritising their mental health. With the majority of committee able to drive in Guildford, Surf is aiming to alleviate the stresses of lockdown, offering to do grocery shopping for those who are isolating. They have also reached out virtually to create an open space for members to talk when in need of someone to talk to.

“Surf is a big social society, in previous years we’ve always ended up with a proper little surf family and we go on weekends away together and have a generally really good time” - Tom, President

When asked what the best part of joining Surf was, Tom enthusiastically answered with: the people, “Surf is a big social society, in previous years we’ve always ended up with a proper little surf family and we go on weekends away together and have a generally really good time”. Surf appears to be a society which attracts “mellow” and relaxed students, looking to partake in a friendly sport society. Because of this, Surf boasts a range of ages within its membership, and is one of the largest societies on campus that is not affiliated with Team Surrey.

If you are looking to join a sports society this year, teams are still offering a range of activities for students and are hopeful for the rest of the upcoming year. To find out more about Surrey Surf, find them on Instagram at @surreysurf.

If you would like your sports club to be featured in the 'Talking Covid' series, get in touch at ussu.thestag@surrey.ac.uk

Photos used with permission

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