The University season is coming up fast, with the first events this weekend. Before it all gets started, I’m here to talk about some of the major changes to the program of competition.
Firstly, the regional boundaries have been redrawn. The main motivation for this is to reduce the number of teams in each region in the open/men’s division. Fewer teams in each region increases the likelihood of us finding suitable venues with the capacity to hold all the teams interested in competing. The new regions will also bring us in line with the regions BUCS use. Now bear with me as this can seem complicated. From next year there will be 7 regions, made up by combinations of the 12 BUCS regions: Scotland + Northern Ireland, North East + North West, Yorkshire + East Midlands, East + London, Wales + West Midlands, South West, South East.
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These 7 ‘small’ regions will be used for the Open/Men’s Indoor and Mixed Indoor divisions. Across the 7 regions, 20 teams will qualify for Division 1 Indoor Nationals and 16 teams into Division 2. For the Women’s Division we’ll use 4 ‘big’ regions: Scotland + Northern Ireland, North (North East + North West + Yorkshire + East Midlands), East (East + London + South East), West (Wales + West Midlands + South West). The Women’s Indoors format will remain the same however for the first time ever we will be running Women’s outdoor regional events. These will not act as qualification tournaments for Outdoor Nationals but will give us valuable information regarding team strength enabling us to run a higher quality event.
As the sharp-eyed readers will have spotted, I’ve referred to Open/Men’s a couple of times in this article. From 2014/2015 onwards Women’s Indoors will be a BUCS sanctioned event. This is great news however it does mean the Open Indoors championship has to become a men-only event to comply with BUCS regulations. This does not apply to outdoors where Women’s isn’t a BUCS event, so we are able to maintain an Open championship outdoors. This is not a decision we took lightly and the consequences of this change were extensively reviewed before the decision was taken.
Communication with the university community has been highlighted as a key area for improvement and I intend to ensure that better communication processes are implemented this season. Hayley Summers recently stepped down as Mixed Coordinator to fill the newly formed Communications role. With a committee member dedicated to this area I’m confident we will see improvements this season. Another area for improvement is the amount of feedback we receive. This year we are implementing two changes to help us improve on this. Firstly, a simple feedback form available at the TD’s desk at tournaments and on our website. Secondly, the return of the UKU Development Conference at the end of the season, which will include sessions focused on the University divisions. This event was really successful this year and is open for anyone to come. It should provide opportunity to talk both formally and informally to lots of the people involved in the organisation of University Ultimate.
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A further change for next year will see UKU organising all the University regional and national events. The actual events themselves will still be run by universities/individuals, but UKU will deal with all of the planning.
In other news we’re revamping University Mixed Outdoor Nationals! This year we had 50 plus teams express interest in playing at UMON. This continues the recent trend of huge growth in interest in mixed University ultimate. However, we recognise (particularly with Men’s and Women’s events being BUCS sanctioned) that Mixed needs to be treated differently. Consequently we’re looking to give University Mixed Outdoor Nationals a different flavour and make it a bit special in comparison to other University events. The plan is to book a huge venue and run a continental style tournament with a Swiss draw format, plenty happening on the sidelines and a big party on Saturday evening.
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That is by no means everything we’ve been doing but it covers the current headlines for next year. If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either myself (email@example.com) or any other member of the University committee.