Staff Spotlight: Matt Bishop – Head of Sports Programmes at Solent University
Matt Bishop delivers the second session of our staff spotlight sessions delivered by the Public Engagement Network
Public engagement is undertaken across the University by staff and students and in 2021 we signed the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement's (NCCPE) Manifesto for Public Engagement. Since then, our staff and students have formed the University’s Public Engagement Network, enabling our community to share best practice and insights to their work. In our latest network meeting Matt Bishop shared insights to how Solent Sport supports public engagement.
Matt Bishop has been instrumental in developing several local, regional and international sports partnerships. Two of the most successful to date are Team Solent Sharks and Team Solent Kestrels which have significantly increased the visibility of Solent University and provided unique opportunities for students from a multitude of different courses to gain real world experiences within the sporting arena.
Team Solent Sharks (Wheelchair Rugby) was formed after discussions with a group of former patients from the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Unit, Solent University, New Forest District Council, the Rugby Football Union and Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR). After an initial six-week scheme subsidised by Solent University and New Forest District Council the club became fully established in 2012 with Solent providing indoor facilities as well as 12 adaptable chairs.
The club has a large emphasis on engaging with and offering sporting opportunities to the disabled community across the south coast and welcomes players from a wide range of sporting backgrounds, including elite athletes and beginners. They are also extremely active in the local community, and regularly take part in mass participation civic sporting events to help promote the health and psychological benefits of sport for those with a disability.
Solent students are encouraged to be involved with the club, providing unique opportunities to interact with a disability sports team and gain valuable hands-on experience to aid their degree studies. To date the club has over 40 members with a strong team of regular Solent Students who also travel to away matches providing player support and club functions. Additionally, Solent Shark players have access to Solent's Sports Science facilities and expertise including support with their physiological and biomechanical development which is led by students.
Team Solent Kestrels (Basketball) is Solent University's largest community sports club partnership and is rapidly becoming one of the largest basketball clubs in the UK drawing in players not only from across the South Coast but also Europe and the US. With key aims to deepen community links and provide an educational and performance sport pathway, Team Solent Kestrels are proud to support five NBL Senior Teams, eleven NBL junior teams, and welcome approximately 150 young people aged 10 upwards within their Mini Kestrel and Academy programmes weekly.
A core element of the partnership is Solent’s provision of a dedicated home venue in the Solent Sports Complex. This offers current students to become future ready through a multitude of live sport experiences related to top-flight competitive matches which includes Sonar TV live streaming, match analysis, interviewing, reporting, sports massage therapy plus a range of coaching positions. Additionally, students can develop their coaching skills and abilities throughout the holiday periods organising and delivering specialist basketball camps for our younger members of the community, in a safe and fun environment.
Most recently, new links with Basketball England (National Governing Body) has brought an influx of new basketball events and opportunities, such as junior programme pathway weekends as part of the ASPIRE initiative. This has further elevated Solent’s ability to expand on practical experiences provided to students to further their future careers.
Without doubt this partnership has had a massive draw on both UK and International students wishing to come to Solent University and the institutions reputation of high-level basketball within the local community.
Discover more about the work of Solent Sport and the University’s commitment to public engagement.