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Frustration for IMG teams

Cardiff University’s Intra Mural Games have come under heavy criticism from last season’s athletes, with complaints stemming from lack of communication and poor organisation. 

Administered by the Athletic Union, the Intra Mural Games (IMG) are a series of recreational sporting events undertaken by university staff and students. Anybody can enter a team into the league providing that they pay fees dependent on the sport, and competitors are able to choose between football and netball. Despite a sustained level of interest, IMG rugby is not offered due to health and safety concerns.

However, in response to a recent feedback survey, participants complained of a number of issues. Those who partook in IMG football were especially displeased, and when asked if the IMG league was run professionally, 74.3 per cent of respondents replied with either ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.

When questioned about the structure of the league, 64.1 per cent of participants did not agree that it worked well, and when asked if they considered themselves up to date, over half of participants felt that they were not. Many complaints were also levered at referees, with one respondent describing the disparity between the Universities 6th team referees and IMG referees as “massively unfair.”

Netball responses were somewhat more positive, with 66.7 per cent of participants agreeing that the league met their expectations. However, those who engaged in netball echoed many of the criticisms held by those who participated in the football league. Only 40.3 per cent of respondents felt that the IMG league was run professionally, and a further 50 per cent chose to mark answers other than ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ when asked whether the league worked well.

Anonymous comments suggested many improvements to the league’s systems, calling for “more regular updates,” “experienced referees,” as well as “stricter rules.” One participant damningly claimed “the guy running it didn’t have a clue.” Participants also had additional issues with money, with requests for increased funding.

Under half of participants thought that the league was good value for money, with 51.2 per cent of respondents from the football league marking answers other than ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’. Netball was similarly divided; exactly 50 per cent of participants answered that they agreed or strongly agreed, with the remaining 50 per cent either remaining neutral or disagreeing outright.

The Intra Mural Games are a costly investment. For example, entering a team into 11-a-side football requires a one off fee of £250. Responses to the survey showed that this compounded the irritations of entrants; among other issues, one netball captain complained that while her team raised £500 in sponsorship money, this did not cover even half of the costs involved.

In addition, the event itself is not profitable for the University. Expenditure for IMG Football narrowly outstripped the income that supported it; pitch bookings in particular accounted for much of the expense, costing over £3000.

Response to the survey was not entirely negative. Many athletes commented that they were happy to be able to experience their sport of choice while forgoing the serious time commitment of joining one of the Athletic Union teams. In addition, many respondents had high praise for their teammates, and were glad of the exercise and social opportunity that the games provided.

With this years games to kick off soon, whether there will be any improvement in quality remains to be seen. Despite criticisms from those who responded to the survey, 91.7 per cent of netball participants agreed that they would return to the league next year, and it looks like the event is set to remain a popular fixture. However, early figures for football may contradict this, as participants were not queried as to whether they would return to the league.

The University responded to the above stating that, “Cardiff University Sport were not consulted over the questions produced for the survey and as such have not been provided with the results.

“We have been provided with some statements included in the survey. The structure of the IMG programme for season 12/13 has been extensively discussed with elected officers from the students’ union, employed staff in the students’ union and members of staff from the University Sports department. Appropriate and reasonable suggestions from the survey will be adopted into the programme for season 12/13.”


Michael O’Connell Davidson