Southern University Games: Two months out from 2014; my experiences

RMIT & UWA, mens hockey, AUG 2013 (photo: Davis Harrigan)
RMIT & UWA, mens hockey, AUG 2013 (photo: Davis Harrigan)

Last year I was fortunate enough to be a part of the La Trobe University Uni Games team at both the regional and Australian competitions, as part of the dedicated media team.

University Games – in particular the national set-up – is the largest annual multi-sport event in Australia, attracting potentially 8,000 competitors, while the regional versions usually average around 2,000.

When I was not selected for the ultimate frisbee team at La Trobe last year, I grumbled for about two hours.  Then I realised I could put my skills and experiences to good use; why not go as a journalist/photographer? *Lightbulb*

Logistics took some time, and the “proposal” had some tweaks, but when I was accepted into the position as a liaison for media for the university, I was beyond stoked.

Uni Games represents a unique opportunity for students and staff in many ways, which include:

  • Team environment that is both competitive and social
  • Unique competition available only to those at tertiary institutions
  • The chance to rub against potential and current Olympic athletes
  • Access for media (radio, TV, film, writing, photography) encouraged
  • Competitors socialise every night at designated events

It sounds like a normal tournament, but once again, it’s not.  One of the first things that was drilled into my head at uni was to “make friends.”  Uni Games is a great way to do that, while running around for several days chasing a disc, tossing a ball or kicking your way to victory.

In 2012, I was a newbie, and a bit out of it when it came to the party scene.  Fast forward 12 months, and in 2013 I had a camera, tablet and notebook everywhere I went during the day.

Why did I want to do media?

For those who regularly follow my work – and my friends – will know how passionate I am about photography, and writing that goes deeper than match reports and reviews.

I can talk to students from all sports, increase coverage on a tournament with intense and spectacular performances, and feature different elements of the games through profile pieces and interviews.

While that all sounds like many competitions done and dusted, you have to participate to really get the feel of such a competition.  University teams train hard to be prepared for their opponents, while it takes a great deal of organising to accommodate – specifically, the regional games – around 2,000 students in a smallish area.

I chose to pursue media at uni games as it was different to the week-to-week operations of organisations such as AFL Victoria.  I could interact with many people my own age, and represent my university (like all the registered competitors) at a very high level.

The competition stands out on any resume – if I were to ask any of my friends if they had worked such a job, I doubt I would get a “yes” response.  The entire week is focused on team play and friendship.  On top of that, it’s a chance to make friends from other interviews.  Which is why media is important to me (at uni games) on two fronts:

  • A camera in hand is more noticeable, but it allows you to connect with people visually
  • I am passionate about journalism, sport and photography, and wanted to present quality articles and content to ensure everyone got the full picture of the competition

Final word

Every experience is different.  I put myself into a media role because I was passionate, and having that passion allowed me to not only work hard, but also produce content that represents the true nature of university games.

This year, I will potentially be doing something bigger and better, but the roles and responsibilities will be similar.  The roles will be diverse, and I get to (somewhat) stand out from some of my compatriots.

On the subject of teams, if you are a university student at La Trobe or somewhere else, some sides are still looking for players.  It’s not too late to be involved.

Author’s note: this is purely driven by opinion and experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in 2013, and cannot wait for 2014.  While the article might sound confusing, if you want to experience Uni Games, you need to do it.

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