Scotland’s top-ranked men’s professional squash player and Commonwealth Games medallist, Greg Lobban, joins Heriot-Watt University next month as the latest high-profile athlete to enrol onto the sports scholarship programme.
The Inverness man will balance his studies in MSc International Sports Management with the rigors of competing on the PSA World Tour made possible thanks to the popular programme.
Run in partnership between Heriot-Watt and Oriam, Scotland’s sports performance centre, the scholarships give professional and amateur athletes the freedom to pursue their sporting passion while working towards a degree.
When I heard about this programme and what it offers, it immediately caught my attention.
It was this flexibility and opportunity to earn an academic qualification from a prestigious university that convinced Greg to apply. Over the next two years, the 30-year-old will split his time between his squash duties, the University and Oriam, where his wife and three-times Commonwealth Games medallist, Donna Lobban, serves as head coach for squash.
Greg’s imminent arrival means the University will soon hold the unique honour of hosting Scotland’s number one male AND female squash players, with Lisa Aitken a fellow sports scholar, studying for a degree in Biological Sciences & Psychology whilst continuing with her playing career.
Greg said: “When I heard about this programme and what it offers, it immediately caught my attention.
“Being a professional athlete, we eventually must consider what our next steps are going to be after our sporting careers come to an end. I would love to keep playing at a professional level until I retire but my body isn’t going to play ball for that long, so I need to look at options.
“I always want to be involved in sport and this course is an area that really interests me. Although I haven’t got my heart set on any one career I want to get into at the end, this course provides me with the flexibility to consider many options and to make an informed decision.
“I’m very committed to being the best I can be in my sport but as an athlete, there are a few hours in the day where I’m not doing too much. I want to dedicate my time a little bit more into improving myself and gaining a better understanding of the future skills I will need.
“That’s what has motivated me to come to Heriot-Watt and Oriam, and I really can’t wait to get started.”
Throughout his studies, Greg plans to use Oriam’s world class facilities to train for competitions and practice with other squash sports scholars. He values the training environment and the support offered by the University and Oriam, which will aid him in excelling in both his academic and sporting pursuits.
He continued: “I’ve been an international squash player for a long time and when I was studying before, I did not have access to the sorts of facilities that are available through Oriam. Facilities such as the recovery and hydrotherapy pool and the access to top class coaches and physios, it’s incredible really. That has been a major part of the reason why I chose to come here and also the positive feedback that I received from other scholars.”
Greg finished: “There’s a few other international athletes coming to join the programme so it’s looking like we’re going to have a strong team. It’ll be quite cool being part of a team because squash is such an individual sport and studying at Heriot-Watt is also really great.”
Heriot-Watt and Oriam offer a yearly sports scholarship programme, designed to embed a high-performance training environment into a sports scholars weekly schedule from its base at the university’s Edinburgh campus.
It is broken down into various categories starting with the Club Performance Scholarships programme. This allows students to study at Heriot-Watt while receiving specialist support to advance in either football or squash. In addition to accessing world-class training facilities, scholars on this programme receive a 40% reduction on their university fees. While the scholarships are initially for a 12-month period this can be extended to cover a student’s entire time at university based on their performance.
There are also individual sports scholarships available to anyone not competing in football or squash. Successful applicants will access the same wide range of support offered by the Club Performance Scholarships but it operates over a two tier system. Level 1 scholars are required to compete at a professional or international level before starting the course and they will receive a 25% reduction on their university fees.
Level 2 scholars are typically younger and, as part of their application process, must submit a written endorsement from their sport’s national governing body to indicate they are likely to reach a professional level.
Ross Campbell, Executive Director of Oriam, said supporting talented athletes like Greg is crucial in fulfilling their sporting and academic aspirations: “Supporting talented athletes on their journey to excellence, both on and off the field, is our greatest privilege at Oriam.
“Our sports scholarship programme, in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, opens doors to boundless opportunities empowering athletes to pursue their passion while forging a path towards a promising future.
“For anyone interested in finding out more my message is simple; if you have a passion for sport and a desire to learn, get in touch and we will do everything in our power to ensure you have the best possible chance of achieving your sporting and academic ambitions.”
For more information or to apply for a sport scholarship at Oriam visit the website.