As Edinburgh University Sports Union prepares to celebrate 150 years we catch up with former president and current Chief Operating Officer for Scottish Student Sport, Stew Fowlie.
In 2005 Stew Fowlie grabbed hold of a
glorious opportunity, moved back to Edinburgh from London and became Scottish Student Sport’s first employee. Six years later, as Chief Operating Officer, he leads a team of nine full-time staff and is responsible for an annual budget of around £600,000.
Though his job description contains words like strategic and financial planning, corporate governance, membership and partnership the reality of what he does is more personal and tangible.
What I set out to do is simply to encourage other people to invest time, energy and thought into making student sport in Scotland better.
Purpose, identity and learning
Initially third in his reasons for attending university behind location and reputation; sport increasingly became Stew’s reliable constant as his academic path wandered and wavered.
Involved in both the football and table-tennis clubs and with golf related summer jobs, Stew found
a huge amount of purpose, identity and learning through being involved in sport at Edinburgh and it is this understanding of what sport can provide that led him to the EUSU presidency in 2002/03, a first job with the British Universities Sports Association - where he helped to plan the transition to BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) - and continues to inform his work with SSS.
Sport was the only constant for me at University and most certainly made the difference between me completing a degree and leaving empty handed. I meandered through various courses before ending up with a General Arts Honours degree made up of units from 10 different subjects. Jack of all trades – Master of Arts!
This March the University plays host to a weekend of sport and celebration as Edinburgh University Sports Union celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Starting with a day of competition at Peffermill and culminating with a gala dinner at Teviot Row House, it is chance for alumni to challenge current students in reunion match ups and to reflect on what Stew terms
the life-changing impact it must have had on well over half a million students during its history.
You can find out more about the weekend by contacting the current EUSU alumni officer, Hatty Cumber.
I like to think of each generation of students as custodians of a priceless heirloom. Most only get the chance to look after it and directly benefit from it for a few years, before handing it on safely to the next group. This is noble work and has been treated as such by everyone down the decades.
Share your moment
As part of the celebration we are also encouraging alumni, staff and students to share their proudest sporting moment. This can be anything from a single instance of brilliance to a pinnacle of achievement such as a league title or famous cup win.
Tweet your moment using the hashtag #eusu150moment, join us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The best moment will win a university sports performance fleece.
For Stew there was no hesitation; leading British Universities Men’s Football to two World University Games silver medals – the best ever results for the squad.
As well as EUSU 150, Stew will also be returning to the University in January as this years' guest speaker at the 2016 Sports Union Ball.
As well as tales of sporting endeavour - including once being described by the Times as “a bearded blur of activity” in a report about a BUCS Championship quarter final - he will also offer advice to current students including his number one tip of spending as much time as possible in the company of positive people and in the pursuit of positive ideas.