Intramural Sport History Project

The ‘History of Intramural Sport’ document aims to detail (to a degree) how Intramural has changed has changed over the years through the eyes of key volunteers and members. Common themes, challenges and successes will be described as well as personal testimonies and pertinent events that occurred.

We have selected a few testimonies below to give you a taste of what the final document will look like.

All ‘testimonies’ are abridged versions of what was said by the testimonee.

Engineers hockey posing for a photo at the edge of a red hockey pitch

The Engineering Hockey Club

Case Study – Stew Fowlie (VP IMS 2001/2)

In the early 2000’s (and indeed, beforehand) the men’s football club would usually enter a few teams into the 11-a-side IM league – which at the time proved to be useful for integration between the club and IMS. Stew’s involvement stemmed from the football club and then went into a position as an Ordinary member on the Exec committee and then went on to be VP IMS (and SU President the year after!)

During this time, there were many other leagues also taking place but football 11s dominated (with more than 50* teams entered across the leagues) and Hockey and Rugby still having strong popularity. At the time there were other one-off events ran in Intramural on an ad-hoc basis that also helped to engage students who were not already part of IMS teams.

At the time the responsibilities of the VP IMS largely concerned ensuring results from fixtures were recorded and reported, facility bookings and referee’s were all sorted before fixtures took place. Even then, Peffermill was still the go-to venue for our outdoor leagues and where needed fixtures would take place at different Edinburgh Leisure venues. Promotions and relegations were done on a seasonal basis (similar to now) and the summer cup was widely supported and a hot-topic amongst many of the IMS teams.

Within the football 11s league, many teams that had players staying in Edinburgh after graduation would still enter into the league every year. One such team - ‘Cantiere San Rocco’ - had already been in the IMS league for 15+ years when Stew was VP IMS (indeed, having more history than some full clubs), and remained in the league until very recently.

Intramural Cricket, Women’s Football (reintroduced to IMS in 2016/17) and Touch Rugby were also part of IMS at the time and saw some degree of popularity. Intramural cricket was tedious to run at the time as it would require a lot of keeping check of the inventory and teams passing on equipment to one another.

From a personal perspective, Stew mentioned that managing IMS helped greatly with time management and organisation due to it being a large commitment on top of final year studies. It was also mentioned that IMS provides a great way for people from many different backgrounds to meet and interact in a relax setting that they otherwise would not have. As with all great things however, IMS had (and has) it’s challenges. Organising teams to always show up on time to their fixture (and sometimes to the correct pitch) could be very involved and having to deal with minor conflicts that arose were all experiences held under Stew’s belt.

Compared to then, IMS now reaches more people and is more closely spread across the SU (as well as having a broader offer). Stew mentioned that IMS feels more professional and formalised than it did before (the author is appreciative of this comment).

*approximate figure


Case Study: Eivind Friis Hamre (VP IMS 2015/16)

The second case study comes from Eivind, who as well as being VP IMS in 2015/16 is one of the founding members of the Baird Buffaloes IM Football team – a team that remains strong in number to this day.

Upon wanting to make a more relaxed team where people could play football socially, Eivind teamed up with some friends and founded Baird Buffaloes. After trying out American Football (and a local handball club), there wasn’t a real sense of team spirit and something didn’t quite click. In the second official year of it’s running, numbers skyrocketed and two teams were entered into the IM league and many of the processes were made official (it was noted that they were perhaps made too official relative to many IMS teams). Eivind then went on to become the B-Team coach (the A-team was relatively more effort to play in and maintain a presence in) and was also Secretary (part of the Founding 4*). Helping manage the team also proved to be a lot of fun and being able to provide a good service for people was very rewarding.

Further to this, Eivind decided to run for VP IMS as he also identified areas within IMS that could do with a some improvement. Namely, individually booking referee’s every week for the 11s fixture was very tedious and often led to players not having a referee (and hence fixtures being more dangerous). At the time, some teams were rather flippant about missing fixtures and there would sometimes be mix-ups with fixture bookings. Eivind dedicated a large part of his time to ensuring that the structure of IMS was more efficient and that the logistics could be improved. This lead to one of IMS’ greatest achievements in securing Phil Duncan as our referee coordinator for football 11s who has proved invaluable in taking charge of and streamlining a great deal of previously tedious work.

There were more one-off events ran throughout the year and predominantly within 5-a-side football (at the time it was not present as a league within Intramural).

Even now, Eivind still plays football casually with a team in London and fondly remembers his time with Baird Buffaloes, similarly having a few teams play in BUCS in the IM league was great for the recognition of the clubs.

*This term was not used by Eivind and is abridged by the author.

Intramural all-stars rugby team wearing dark blue shirs standing together looking at something behind and to the left of the camera

The IMS All-Stars Rugby Team

Case Study – Natalie McCaig (IMC 2019/20)

Next up on the History of IMS project we have Nat McCaig, Intramural Coordinator (19/20).

Unlike some others, Nat brings a more traditional hockey side to IMS stemming from her large involvement with the Women’s hockey club. Being a goalkeeper, Nat was always in high demand from the club and through this got to work with many different areas of the club and SU. It was mentioned within EUWHC that there was a position going on the Intramural committee for the Hockey Officer. This year (18/19) was the first year of the new Intramural committee – in a different format to the preceding one that existed 15 years prior to this (more info to come in a later section on this). Nat then applied for the role and was (rightly) appointed to the position. Nat also already knew the incoming VP IMS and staff member (Ollie Cruickshank and Fergus MacKenzie, articles to come) through the IMS Committee – further proving it’s use as in helping students develop.

Though the Intramural hockey league has been a fairly relaxed one over the past year, three years ago the captains were known to cause a ruckus at the slightest issue (often with the weather, it should be noted) and Nat would be on the receiving end of many phone calls from disgruntled captains*. As such, when Nat was encouraged to run for Intramural Coordinator one of the largest tasks was to streamline much of the communication to captains and ensure that officers and captains had the sufficient training required. Additionally, the process of having new players join teams was greatly confusing and Nat endeavoured to change this and did so through more regular communication with captains and encouraging new players to give IM Hockey a try**.

2019/20 was the first year of the ‘Give It A Go’ events being officially implemented which aimed to bring more new students into IMS through trial events for all the sports ran alongside captains looking for new players. These events were a massive success with many players entering teams and some even forming their own with other people they met on the day – expanding peer groups like no other aspect of the university (true pioneering). This also brough along the Great New Wave of IMS teams***  which helped introduce many new teams to IMS, helping the longevity of the program.

Some challenges found during this period was mass communication sent out to all captains – as every league runs differently the wants and needs of captains can be very different and some would not engage with large scale emails. This process was improved through handing over communications to officers more and ensuring that the officers were sufficiently equipped to deal with queries and knew when to pass it along to VP, IMC or staff. This also tied into the work done to ensure that the VP and IMC would go down to most of the leagues through the year and chat to the captains and directly get feedback, this also gave the IMS team a sense of how things ran from their end and what (if anything needed to be changed).

*not all captains were quick to complain (e.g the Engineering Hockey captains amongst others).

**Friday nights under the peffs lights can be an intimidating experience at first, it must be said.

***Not a true historical event


Case Study – Paul Duffy (VP IMS 2016/18 and SU President 2018/19)

One of the largest names in recent Intramural history is Paul Duffy. Being VP IMS 2016/17 and 2017/18, he brought about many changes and went on to become Sports Union President in 2018/19.

Paul first got involved with sport at the university through MathSoc Football, who at the time were not part of the IMS league as they sadly missed the deadline for entries. Not one to be deterred however, Paul took on responsibility with the team in his first year and in his following year managed all MathSoc Intramural sport teams – a great undertaking. He also ensured that all the teams met the deadline for entries.

After having a very successful year as sports secretary for MathSoc, Paul got to speaking to Eivind and Joe (previous VP IMS and IMC, respectively) and became interested in running for one of the exec positions. At the time the IMC position was uncontested however there was someone running for VP IMS, that person then dropped out however and both IMS Exec positions became uncontested. Paul and Paddy Hayes (IMC in 2016/17) decided to run for the positions and were duly elected – despite neither being present on the day and having others speak on their behalf.

Paul stayed on in the role for the year following as well having enjoyed it greatly in his first year. This being said there were challenges faced during this time. In 2017/18 the staffing structure of the sports union changed and there was more staff time allocated to Intramural as well as having 1-2-1’s being formally introduced on a fortnightly basis. Having more contact time introduced better communication throughout the programme and also ensured that everyone within the IMS team remained on the same page.

Though women’s football was introduced into IMS many years ago, it was reintroduced into the league by Paul in 2017/18. Football 5s was also introduced into the league in 2016/17 – previously football 5s was only played during one day/week tournaments. During this period, the software used to schedule fixtures was Top Tournament – which was later replaced by Playwaze for being a superior software.

Paul also oversaw the introduction of two big structures within Intramural: the Intramural Sport Committee and the Vice-President’s Trophy. The committee was introduced as there was (and was always) too much work to be done solely by the VP IMS, IMC and staff – interestingly, the older structure of the SU Executive Committee had two ordinary members that (amongst other things) would help the VP IMS with their responsibilities and there would also be other ‘Sport Convenors’. These convenors would be the equivalent of the current IMS sport officers and would be largely responsible for the running of the leagues.

The Vice-President’s trophy came about as many IMS teams would see very little point in going to the ball as there was not any IMS awards. As such, Paul had the Vice-President’s trophy introduced in 2018 (for the academic year 2019/20). This is one of Paul’s greatest achievements within IMS that has left a legacy that will continue for many years to come, and played a large role in helping raise the profile of IMS teams within university sport and helping them to feel more integrated with the sports union. It also gives teams something to work towards and helps to quantify one of the ways in which an Intramural team can be “good”.

2018/19 was also a big year as it was the first year of Intramural All-Stars – where the best players in IMS play against the clubs (as a pilot, football 11s was tested and a new sport has been added every year since). Interestingly, Paul had his first use of his refereeing qualification in this game and his performance was arguably better than that of some of the players.

Following on from being VP IMS, Paul made a special bid in the SU’s planning submission in his year as President for funding for the ‘Give It A Go’ events that take place during welcome and help to encourage new players to get involved with Intramural. Overall Paul contributed a great deal to the IMS programme and has helped to elevate it greatly.

Woman in a red t-shirt in action playing hockey

A Hockey Player playing in IMS All-Stars

Case Study – Professor David Finnegan

Our first account from purely a players perspective comes from Professor David Finnegan within the School of Biological Sciences, who has been playing Intramural Squash since 1969!

David first arrived at the University in 1969 to complete his PhD after having completed his studies, and was keen to play squash. At the time, the IMS squash league was incredibly large (due to the sport’s popularity at the time) and within the School of Biological sciences alone there were upwards of 4 teams entering every year. These teams would generally be split by discipline – molecular biology, zoology, etc. During this period, there were a few different squash courts that were used across Edinburgh – the (now) Pleasance Gym had two standard squash courts on the ground floor as well as a wooden one on the upper floor that was noted to be rather loud and wasn’t as ideal to play on. There were to courts at Pollock halls that were very occasionally used as well as two at King’s Buildings that were popular to play on amongst players. Should there have been demand, then matches would have also occurred at Bell’s Mills – this was an older converted Mill and was located just past the waters of Leith. This court wasn’t as ideal to play on during the winter season as it was always very cold and condensation would form on the walls – affecting the return trajectory of the ball (on top of the court already being rather far away for most people!)

In 1977 there were more courts introduced at the Pleasance gym to cope with increasing demand as Squash gained even more popularity as a sport – a total of 8 courts were used. Bell’s Mills was no longer used at this time (nor were the courts at Pollock Halls) however the courts at Kings Buildings were still occasionally used. The 8 courts in Pleasance were reduced to 4 approximately a decade ago to allow for the construction of the cardio gym which enabled more people to access the gym through lower intensity cardio.

After taking a break from IMS Squash for some years, David noted that in approximately 1997 there was a late peak (after the great popularity in the 80s) where the leagues for men and women were separate and each had 5 divisions (with approximately 8 teams per division). Amongst other factors, this shows that popularity in IMS often reflects the general popularity of a sport (also observed in IMS Rugby, with it recently decreased in popularity as a sport). David also played IM Squash in his undergraduate years in Adelaide, so truly is a seasoned IMS member!

The exact year that IMS Squash began is uncertain, some sources have it placed at 1969 (part of a series of documents overviewing what the SU offered throughout the 2000s, available to view in the Sports Union Office in 48 Pleasance) however this likely is due to the current IM Squash league winners shield dating to 1969. From the account given, it seems as though IM Squash precedes this date by at least several years. David also noted that there used to be a separate IM Squash Tankard awarded that dates back to at least 1969, however the location of said tankard is currently unknown.

David currently plays with the Holyrood Taverners, which is predominantly made of students and staff from the School of Biology with a mix of a few others. Thankfully, this team has remained for several years and will hopefully continue – there was at one point concerns the league would cease to run however it still bounced back after the pandemic year. The current structure of the league is better than it was previously, having been formalised more and now the academic year is split into two semesters (previously there were “half-courses” that would start in October and end in the Summer and would clashes with sports leagues, amongst other things). David is likely the longest standing member of IMS at Edinburgh University and truly embodies the Spirit of IMS.


Case Study – James Dobie (former VP IMS)

James Dobie gives his journey with sport at Edinburgh, where he served many years on the SU Executive Committee and then continued as an advisor to the Blue’s and Colours Committee for 20 plus years!

James played a variety of different sports whilst at University, he was a member of the tennis club and played in IMS Football 11s and IMS Badminton. The football team he played for (Cantierri San Rocco, also mentioned in Stew Fowlie’s testimony) was in fact founded by James and some of his friends and continued to play in the IMS leagues for many years. They also entered the South of Scotland league and played to some success within the leagues – though it cannot be confirmed, it is highly suspected that Cantierri San Rocco is the longest running IMS team in the programme’s history!

During his term as VP IMS, there was an annual Intramural sports day event down at Peffermill which involved many different sports and competitions and brough together students and members of the University for a fun day of physical activity (this being said, organising said event may have less fun and more stressful at times!) – this was a direct continuation of the event’s introduction in the year prior, which was organised by then VP IMS Jo Goodburn. This brought out the truly recreational side of the programme and continued to run occasionally for many more years.

One of the larger issues James wished to address during his term was improving the communication between captains, groundsmen and pitch providers. The football 11s league was especially difficult to manage at times due to the changing nature of pitch conditions and sometimes only knowing availability of pitches on a very short notice – James managed to improve this however through putting flyers for fixtures around campus and devising a system where captains would also contact each other with any changes that would occur. This greatly helped streamline the fixtures and also helped ensure that referee’s were constantly kept in the loop. James also helped support the equivalent of the IMS Officers at the time (the positions were less official at the time) and ensured that they were all up to speed on managing the leagues. This is also how James got involved with becoming VP Intramural, having managed two of the IM Sports the year before and knowing the previous VP IMS via being part of the same academic school. This proved especially pertinent as Ladies Football was first introduced to IMS during James’ term (and the first it had been introduced university wide on a large scale) and there was much communication required between himself and the officer in charge of running the league at the time.

Additionally, more volunteers got involved with IMS during this year as one-off friendly tournaments were run alongside some of the clubs (such as Shinty, Lacrosse and Waterpolo to name a few). In order to increase publicity of IMS, James worked closely with The Student to promote big fixtures that were coming up and occasionally sharing match reports – at the time, the SU Publicity Officer was predominantly in charge of maintaining the relationship between the SU and The Student. Furthermore, James’ first year on the executive committee also saw the first promotional video for the SU and IMS was included within the video – many incoming students to the University will have seen this video and generally helped increase uptake of sport.

During his time at the University, colours awards were not generally awarded for those in Intramural – at most, some would have been awarded an Executive Committee award should they have proven to have contributed greatly to the programme and SU as a whole. This has gradually changed over the years and is now more positive with many others in IMS being awarded Colours for services to their individual teams as well, due it positive impacting student sporting experience. James also notes that due to clubs being generally more organised now than previously, Blue’s awards are harder to achieve whereas Colours awards have generally remained the same – one of his largest takeaways through advising on the B&C committee is that achievements within clubs cannot be maintained and that Colours awards are designed to help celebrate the achievements of many individuals.

On a different note, in the late 1980s Edinburgh University students produced more medals at International sporting competitions (of a sort) than all of Canada combined! (*The author notes that there are now more international students and athletes at Edinburgh University, and as such the number of medals has increased even further due to this collaboration).

The year after being VP IMS, James was elected as Vice-President of the Sports Union and continued his work to further sport at the University – including lobbying many officials for additional space for sport across Edinburgh. He also organised the SU ball during an especially tricky year where the usual venue was unavailable due to having refurbishments. Throughout the years, James’ dedication, passion and organisation has helped in weathering many storms. He has contributed so much of his efforts during University, and after, to the benefit of student sport and everyone at EUSU is grateful to him.


Four students posing wearing dark blue t-shirts, holding a rugby ball, a netball, and a football

IMS All-Stars 2021/22 promotional shoot.

Case Study – Dr. Jon Turner

Dr. Jon Turner is the founder and Director of the Institute for Academic Development at the University and has been playing IMS Squash for several years now! He started playing as a PhD student and has since continued.

Coming from the School of GeoSciences, Jon first played for the ‘GeogSoc’ team and was always involved in the active promotion of the team to staff and students. It was always an open invitation team with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with no commitments needed, just to be keen to play a game of squash! The GeogSoc team was predominantly made of PhD students and staff however, with most of undergradate student playing for the Club teams – when Jon joined IMS, there were other local squash teams around Edinburgh that played in the leagues and did so for many years.

After a few years, Jon took on the extra responsibility of captaining his team and organising a merge between the GeogSoc, Psychologs and Linguistics teams – hence the inception of “Geolinguistics” (this occurred in approximately the mid 1990s). This was initially done due to each team having a reduced number of players per team, however it brought about a stronger sense of community within the IMS Squash league. This is one of the reasons why the IMS Squash league remains strong to this day (the author has good reason to suspect) in terms of team numbers as well as all members getting to know one another.

Compared to when Jon started playing in IMS, the process is now more formalised and communication is much better than it was previously – similar to the account given by Professor David Finnegan, around 10 years is the point where the IMS leagues became more formalised throughout the University and truly began to develop as a league.

This is also approximately the time when several of the old Squash courts in the now Pleasance Gym were converted into the cardio gym that is there now. After seeing the benefits this brought to the community, Jon wrote a piece on IMS squash and it’s accessibility he wrote a piece titled: “What have you done to my squash courts!”  This is part of a larger book and project called “EqualBITE” which aims to promote and highlight gender equality in Higher Education (the piece, and others in the series, are very insightful and worth a read!)

This, and the fact that Jon said that one of the largest benefits of IMS is that “you get to meet people from all different backgrounds” shows that he is a true team player and a fantastic advocate for sport and inclusion throughout the University. Though many not know of his work, the IAD supports many different projects throughout the University and has helped equip staff and students alike – Jon was involved in the initial planning discussions of the Edinburgh Award!


Case Study – Phil Duncan (Referee Coordinator)

Phil Duncan is the current Referee Coordinator for all of the IMS Football 11s leagues and has been organising referee’s for Intramural since 2015.

Phil attended the University in 2011 (studied History) and would referee football matches around Edinburgh and some for the football club, already having referee experience. In 2013, Phil heard about a way to referee casual football games (in what was Intramural) on weekends and hasn’t looked back since. A large part of why this appealed to Phil was as it helped encourage students (and the wider community) to get out and about, which can aid in maintaining their wellbeing – this can be quite vital for many individuals as studies and other commitments can be stressful at times.

At the time, the refereeing situation in Intramural was much more informal and oftentimes there were tensions between the referees and players. As such, in 2014/15 Phil sat down with the incoming Vice-President Intramural, Eivind Friis Hamre, to think about how to formalise the refereeing within IMS and help to make communication better for all parties involved. Phil then took on the role of managing and appointing the referees to games himself, and ensuring that they were of sufficient standard and understood the structure of IMS before going into games.

Phil continues in this role to this day and is instrumental in the running of IMS football 11s, and still referees himself! Throughout the years, the standard of play in IMS remains consistently quite high (especially considering that many teams do not practise or train with each other outside of games), nevertheless it remains as a casual and social league (as it has done since it’s inception). The advantage of becoming more of an official league and being more formalised is that more fixtures go ahead and teams have more consistent pitch time. Moreover, due to the leagues being better organised, there are now more players from different backgrounds – more recently, there have been more women playing in the 11s leagues whereas historically it has been only men.

When asked about why many players enjoy IMS football, Phil mentioned that due to the league being less formal than BUCS (for example) it allows for teams to take it as seriously as they wish. Some take it very seriously and have training, sponsorships etc. however ultimately it’s the team’s decision and means that there’s something for everyone. IMS football as a league embodies “you get out what you put in” – some teams will focus more on performance, however others may choose to focus more on off-pitch experience and socials. Both approaches help to improve player experience and make their time at University more enjoyable.

Phil also noted that IMS can help people develop greatly as individuals. For referees, they can gain experience in more informal games where there is generally less pressure on them and the player attitude is more understanding than some other leagues. As a referee, you can develop your communication with players as well as build up a rapport with them. This makes the introduction to football umpiring more smooth and encourages players to referee more during their time at University and beyond.

Many captains also invest a lot of time into their time, and take on the role of captain, coach and everything in between. As such, their confidence and leadership skills can vastly improve and having to manage a team of up to 30 people (at times) alongside a degree (and potentially other responsibilities) truly builds on their time management. Some captains throughout the years have truly stood out as exceptional: securing partnerships, organising kit, finances, social media, coaching and much more. Undoubtedly, these individuals will take forward the skills they gained into their life.

Finally, and on a different note, Phil notes that due to the relationship with Sport and Exercise; players get to play on very high quality pitches for a very good price per individual. The pitches are much preferred to play on compared to other ones and the staff team at Peffermill also help IMS football (as well as the other leagues) in many other ways which is massively valuable.

Phil has been an umpire for IMS for almost 10 years, and has organised the refereeing for almost as long – he is truly an outstanding individual and dedicates much of his time and effort to improving the lives and experiences of others. His impact on the programme cannot be quantified and the leagues would simply not be the same without him.


Netball players playing on an outdoor court.

IMS All-Stars Netball

Case Study – Marina Sergeeva (Sports Union President 2015/16)

Next in the History of IMS testimonies we have Marina Sergeeva, who sat on the Executive Committee for two years before being elected as Sports Union president for 2015/16.

During her initial years of study, Marina was a member of the Boat Club at the University and became keen to get more involved with the SU – in the year 2013/14 Marina was elected as the Intramural Coordinator and took great charge within the programme. Using her experience in organising recreational aspects of rowing and being captain of the Business Netball team, Marina introduced one off events for sports that many students may not have previously experienced (the foundation of the EdEx, ‘Edinburgh Experience’, programme). This proved beneficial for many smaller sports clubs as they could obtain greater exposure and reach a wider variety of potential members, as well as showing what Intramural and recreational sport can offer to clubs. Amongst these events there was: Croquet, Curling, Indoor Cycling, Ultimate Frisbee and Waterpolo – in some cases these events were simply taster sessions however some were also ran as one off tournaments.

These events were somewhat of an unexpected success, and showed the appetite that students had for sport (this greatly helped advertise and advocate for sport across the University). The following year, the events were formalised as EdEx. These events ran to even greater success as Teach First supported many of the events – they initially supported some of the SU events and were brought into supporting the IMS programme for the year.

Though this was during Marina’s term as SU Vice-President, she continued to work to better the programme and helped in many different aspects. Through running these events and observing these impacts (and managing her own IMS team), there were two main advantages that Marina felt IMS offered. Firstly, it gave students to experience many different sports in a less highly pressured environment and meet people from all different backgrounds. Furthermore, encouraging people to try different experiences can help them to build their confidence in Through her years with the SU, Marina found that doing work within sport greatly helped her career. Through having discussions with club members, taking leadership positions and organising many different events she felt that her confidence increased greatly.

As well as this, her experiences helped hone her: organisation, management, delegation and many more skills – all of which are greatly sought after by employers and prove invaluable in any working/academic environment. Additionally, as much of the work in managing IMS during her time as IMC was managing teams in the different leagues and communicating with many parties (internal and external) she gained further skills in managing relationships that helped greatly during her time as SU President.

Marina contributed much to the IMS programme and so many other areas during her three years of doing great work with the SU, and her work has had a lasting impact that continues to benefit students to this day.


Case Study – Vanessa Quinlan (former VP IMS)

Vanessa Quinlan is giving her testimony next on the History of Intramural Sport. She was VP IMS in the mid 1990s and was on the committee for the Women’s Hockey Club.

The three main sport leagues that required the most work in terms of organisation were: hockey, football and rugby as they generally sold out every year during this time – football was generally quite oversubscribed every year and had a good split of academic teams as well as groups of friends that entered. Entries to the league happened during welcome week in semester 1 and there were queues outside the door to the SU office with people wishing to enter. Due to this influx, there would often be challenges in finding enough facility space and there would be many conversations had with (what was) Edinburgh Leisure at the start of each week to ensure the fixtures could go forward.

Some members of the IMS community would feel that IMS didn’t have sufficient celebration of their activity (which at times would be perpetuated by IMS fixtures taking second place to other bookings) and hence a large project was ensuring that communication to members within the IMS community was consistently strong throughout the year. This helped the captains feel more valued and made them more responsible for their teams (hence making the leagues more generally organised).

During this time, the positions for the Executive Committee were generally quite sought after by many clubs – as the experience and insight gained can help a club massively. Larger clubs tended to have at least one or two members running, however the committee was still generally quite balanced in representation year by year. Vanessa got involved with the Executive Committee through being known as an incredibly organised volunteer during her term as Treasurer for the Women’s Hockey Club, and because of the links between club and Intramural hockey she ran for VP IMS.

Organisation was (and still is) key for the VP IMS role due to the constant nature of the workload – it was often noted that the VP IMS had work all year round whereas the general VP of the SU’s work generally tailed off after the SU ball (still a monumental task, it must be said). Many different events were ran during Vanessa’s time as VP IMS, and she further helped the programme during her time as Sports President and a great deal of the organisation and recognition with the programme remains to this day.


Engineers hockey posing for a photo at the edge of a red hockey pitch

IMS All-Stars Rugby

Case Study – Imogen Stephens (VP IMS 1980/81)

Imogen Stephens was VP Intramural in 1980/81 as well as Honorary Secretary in 1981/82. After reading some of the other testimonials in the project, she reached out and gave the following statements based on her experience – some editing has been made to make it in a similar style to other testimonials.

“I was a student at Edinburgh between 1977 and 1983 and studied Medicine with an Intercalated year, therefore I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend 6 years as a student it gave me sufficient time to settle down and hence get really involved with the Sports Union. Sport, and being part of a team effort, has always been really important to me. I was a real all-rounder in terms of sport, and represented Edinburgh in netball, hockey, tennis (in the era of Judy Murray, nee Erskine), squash and table tennis.

Alongside another Medical student, I was the co-founder of the Rambling Club - later renamed the Hillwalking Club and I believe is now one of the largest sports clubs at Edinburgh. We founded this club (initially it was a society, under EUSA, and we had to fight hard to get it recognised as a EUSU club so that we could hire out minibuses, alongside other benefits). As we had no previous experience of hills and mountains but wanted to get out there - and EU Mountaineering Club just did not cater for those that were new to the area at the time. We worked closely with university PE staff and at Firbush to develop mountain leadership and navigation skills and grew this club into quite a force.”

“Throughout all of my actions and work within University sport, my principle was always inclusion and getting people involved with University sport. I didn't really realise this at the time, although as a future public health doctor it was clearly ingrained in me! I had never come across the concept of 'Intramural' sport before coming to University however I really loved the idea of competitive sport not being the exclusive pursuit of those who were at an 'elite' level. As someone who'd excelled at sport at school I had been a bit taken aback to realise I would have to fight hard even to reach the bottom level teams to represent my university. Hence, I really jumped at the chance to reinvigorate intramural sport during my term as VP Intra Mural: my ambition was to encourage as many different sports and members of the University community as possible to join in.

I fondly recall an Intra Mural lacrosse tournament where people with no past experience at all had a lot of fun attempting to learn: the emergency dentist service was unfortunately a bit busy that evening. Mainly, though, I wanted to open up fun competition for everyone - and encourage people to try new sports. To me, that seemed the fundamental principles of Intramural sport at Edinburgh.”

From the author’s perspective, this was an absolute joy to read and what Imogen described IMS to be is clearly what we still see to this day in IMS. Amongst other things, the principle of including people that Imogen helped to further instill during her time with the Sports Union has continued on to this day, for which everyone at EUSU is very grateful for.


If you would like to share your own experiences of Intramural or know someone who does, then please get in touch with our Vice President Intramural (

Author: Abd Al-Rahman Al-Remal - Vice President Intramural 2021/22

A note from the Author:Abd wearing a light blue t-shirt with Edinburgh intramural sport written on the front in white writing, and wearing a green cap backwards on his head.

“The History of IMS project was initially done to find out a little more on how IMS has changes over the years. What was uncovered however, is an entirely different story! Dating back to as far as 1880 with different inter-University competitions in football and a one-off rowing event that members of the SU staff took part in. Speaking to so many different members of the SU and members of IMS throughout the years has been a genuinely eye-opening and incredible experience – I have loved every second of it. I cannot thank everyone enough who has given their story, I have cherished hearing them all.

I would also like to give a massive thank you to Ollie Cruickshank, who helped me reach out to people from previous years and for being the best mentor I could have asked for. I could not have had a better Intramural Coordinator, incoming VP Intramural, and friend this year Hannah Adams who has helped the programme expand in so many different ways and been the best person to work with.

A special thanks to Irene McTernan for providing so much invaluable information on all things IMS (and SU) and her continued years of service to the SU.

Finally, a thanks to everyone else this year for making it the best I’ve had so far – if there’s one thing I’ve learned about IMS, it’s that the group of people around you can make your experience infinitely better. Something I have been privileged to experience this year and throughout University.”


- Abd Al-Rahman Al-Remal (Vice President Intramural 2021/22)