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Video: Ulster Rugby vacancy for recruit with bear necessities - could you be new Sparky?

Ulster Rugby seeking new mascot full of roar talent

By Gerald Lennon

Ulster Rugby are on the look-out for a new official team mascot to step into the role of Sparky the Bear - but did this reporter have the necessities required?

I was dispatched to the Kingspan stadium for a trial and, soon after I arrived, I slipped into the famous faux-fur bodysuit, gloves and headpiece.

After just one lap of the pitch in Sparky's shoes (or rather socks) it became clear that you need to be fit, have decent balance and a great sense of humour. Any sort of manoeuvring was difficult and the tunnel vision can make it tough to see.

Luckily, the outgoing Sparky, Norman Pollock, was on hand to share some tips and demonstrate a few of his signature dance moves.

Norman said: "Forget about who you are - you're out there being Sparky.

"Just go out there and enjoy yourself.

"Listen to the crowd, and when there is action going on crank it up a bit."

The 63-year-old keeps fit by running and managed to complete the last leg of the Belfast Marathon a few years ago dressed as Sparky.

The heat inside the costume can become unbearable however, and Norman offered some advice: "There's not a lot you can do about the heat when you're in the costume, but if you have plenty of water you'll be fine. You can also pop into the changing rooms to cool off for a few minutes."

Norman sometimes placed bottles of water around the pitch to enable him to stay hydrated.

Norman Pollock (left), who was Ulster Rugby mascot Sparky for 18 years, hands over the costume for a day to Belfast Telegraph reporter Gerald Lennon
Norman Pollock (left), who was Ulster Rugby mascot Sparky for 18 years, hands over the costume for a day to Belfast Telegraph reporter Gerald Lennon
Belfast Telegraph reporter Gerald Lennon
Norman Pollock

Fiona Hampton, head of sales and marketing for Ulster Rugby, said: "Sparky is our official team mascot and has been since 2000.

"He has always been a bear, but he has had a few facelifts over the years.

"Norman Pollock has really been the man that brought the bear to life over the years, and for so many of our fans he is as integral a part of the match day as the team."

Fiona hopes that anyone considering applying for the role is passionate about Ulster Rugby.

She added: "It is more than just a job and without that passion I don't think they could truly fill the boots (and paws) of the man handing over the mantle.

"The right candidate will need to be able to handle the confines of the suit, able to stir a crowd and, most importantly, not fall over or get in the way of the cameras.

"It is a harder job than you think."

If you think you have what it takes then head to Ulster Rugby's website and start working on your application. Send a video no longer than 60 seconds and apply.

The closing date for applications is June 25, and it's a remunerated position with "match fees" negotiable on experience.

Belfast Telegraph

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