It’s not often that we are encouraged to blend into a crowd and conceal our identities. However, St Andrews’ Sport Society is providing students the chance to do just that at the Here for Sport Masquerade Ball.
On 1 February, in the Old Course Hotel, a parade of glittering masks will flood the Ballroom. If you struggle to locate your friends on an average night out, expect to find it even more of a challenge when everyone’s faces are concealed. However, this may be a blessing in disguise. 2020 calls for a fresh start and new beginnings. Perhaps this is the opportune moment to lose yourself in a sea of indistinguishable students and to mingle with those you normally wouldn’t dare to approach. You may find that your mask provides you with a new-found confidence and a freedom to cross established friendship cliques. Traditionally, the mask symbolises deceit and mystery. But Here for Sport has turned this convention on its head. The Masquerade Ball aims to promote inclusiveness and to break pre-existing barriers between groups.
Photograph of some of the members of Here for Sport. Taken by Jenny Stevenson.
About Here for Sport (HFS):
In the tradition of the new year, society experiences the annual and tiresome stream of inspirational quotations and resolutions posted across the media. “New year, new me,” as I am sure you are aware is amongst these common expressions. Everyone becomes obsessed with improving themselves. This usually consists of joining the gym and starting the latest diet for a few weeks, until they slip back into old habits and routines. Whilst this is a respectable and healthy challenge to set yourself, perhaps this year we should shift the focus away from ourselves and onto others. We take for granted the mere opportunity to set ourself such goals as these. What we don’t realise is that not everyone has the access and chance to become active within the sporting community. For many minority groups, purchasing a membership for a gym or attending classes and clubs can be extremely daunting. Not everyone feels athletically confident or can afford the newest sports gear or equipment. The sporting world can therefore be unaccessible and intimidating.
This year, St Andrews has chosen to work with the charity Here for Sport in order to tackle this important issue.
This social enterprise was founded in 2019 by Sam Winton, a former St Andrews student. Whilst at the University, Winton has said to have met many barriers during his sporting endeavours — cost being a major obstacle. He also encountered among fellow students complications such as gender, race and ethnicity. From his student experience he felt inspired to incite change and thus, created HFS to address the barriers that occur within sporting environments and to ensure it is no longer a hostile space for marginalised groups. HFS primarily deals with women, LGBTQ+ communities, black and ethnic minority communities and people from socially disadvantages areas and aims to “make sure as many people can benefit from getting involved” in sport.
The main way the charity achieves this is through the sale of its athletic wear via its website hereforsport.com. Half of all profits raised from the sale goes to the charity trust. In addition, the charity is currently working with the National Lottery, UK Sport, Sport England and other national governing bodies to create a Coventry-based rowing club for young gang members.
Rationale Behind the Event:
The coalition between St Andrews and HFS works to support athletes and encourages students to join new clubs with the aim to balance high performance with accessibility. In order to create awareness of this new alliance, St Andrews has decided to host an original ball for the occasion. The University feels that a masquerade ball is the perfect fit for the occasion as it emphasises the values of HFS; “who or what you are doesn’t matter in sport, it’s the effort you put in.”
The event will be hosted at the Old Course Hotel in the Ballroom from 8:00pm to 2:00am on 1 February. There will be live music to begin the evening. This will feature student musicians and will be followed by student DJ Ben Hawken. The bar will be fully stocked — and make sure to look out for their new and innovative cocktails specially crafted for the evening. The bar will accept both cash and card, but make sure to bring your ID if you wish to purchase alcohol.