The world of sport is forever changing, and the way sport is taught in further and higher education is no exception. Sport courses at South West College are designed for students with a natural interest in sport, and aim to cover all the bases, in the hope that those students can form an idea of what they want to do in the future.
As such, when sport changes, so do the courses. In recent years psychology has become more significant in the sporting world, health sciences have taken on a greater role, and sporting facilities around the country have continued to improve. As things have changed, so to has SWC. Now, with the imminent arrival of the new Erne Campus, Cheryl Veitch, co-ordinator for Level 3 Sport, believes that her department will soon be able to provide some of the best sporting education in Ireland, the UK and beyond.
Cheryl explains, ‘In the past, Sports Courses had a focus on several traditional career paths, such as personal training, PE teaching, fitness coaching and things like that. Now, however, we cover so much more in the curriculum and therefore open up a lot of new opportunities. Students still have those traditional paths, but the introduction of elements such as physiotherapy, radiography and nutrition sciences, mean that sport studies is now a fantastic course for anybody who has an interest in sport, but isn’t completely sure what they want to do yet.’
Sports education now covers everything that goes on behind the scenes in sport, such as psychology and health science, and with these changes comes the need for new and improved facilities. Cheryl believes the new Erne Campus will give South West College a significant advantage in this regard.
‘The fact that we are going to have such state of the art facilities is going to have a massive impact on students learning. We’ll have fully functioning fitness suits, or own dedicated dance studio, access to internal and external sporting facilities. It’s going to be one of the top learning facilities in Northern Ireland, if not the UK, and is going to enhance the learning so much.
‘Having the right facilities is more important than ever. Students need to see that we’re putting in the effort to provide them with the best learning experience we can. Students nowadays are so used to having the latest technology at their fingertips, so it only makes sense that this is how they’ll learn best too, through modern technology. With our new facilities we’ll have touchscreens, iPads, and whatever new technology we need at our disposal and that will benefit our students so much. It’s the future. It’s how people want to learn and it’s how we are going to help them learn.’
With a very clear idea of what will work best for them, the sports department at South West College have been able to work directly with the Erne Campus developers and designers, helping create the environment that will best serve future students. Cheryl believes this close relationship has helped design facilities that will be some of the best in the UK and will provide a fantastic platform for students in Fermanagh and beyond who want to explore an education or a career in sport.
‘We’ve worked really closely in the last year or eighteen months with the developers and the designers, telling them what we want. We’re lucky that we’ve been able to have such a strong input into it. We’ve looked at the types of floors that we want, the rooms we want; what we need in the rooms and where we need it. So we’ve been really lucky in that regard and I think the input we’ve had is really going to benefit everything we do. I have no doubt that we’ll be one of the top colleges across the UK and beyond.
‘Here in Fermanagh and the surrounding areas we have so much to offer with different types of sports. We have GAA, Soccer, Volleyball, Swimming, Horseriding, and Cycling. Really anything you can think of in terms of sport in Northern Ireland. We’re versatile in what we do and the department here at South West College and those of us teaching here are very versatile. I think the courses here are open to everybody, one sport or another doesn’t really change you or make you any better or any less than anyone else. We give students the opportunity to find their niche, to experience everything they want to try and all the different aspects, be it coaching or even psychology. Anyone with any sort of interest can step in, we will promote that interest and nurture it so they get the best experience possible.’