Competitive sports are not for everyone, so why is it that so many students choose to dust off their old gym bags and become members of university sports?
George Fred Williams, a US politician, once said “sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence,” and sport helps people in many ways such as building confidence, and learning to work as a team even gaining self-motivation.
UAL Sport has 18 competitive teams to choose from ranging from hockey to contemporary dance. They all welcome new recruits and even if you have never kicked a ball or picked up a hockey stick there is always a place for you.
Most sports have one to three teams that play competitively so there is always an opportunity for you to play or even just train with the team no matter what your ability.
However, when speaking to members of UAL sports teams there was one thing that everybody seemed to have in common: friendships.
It is often said that university is the time you make friends for life and what better way than to meet people with common interests such as sport?
Alex Brown a third year student at UAL and President of the Women’s Hockey said: “I wanted to join a team as my course only has 20 people and most of them still commute from home so found it quite difficult to meet new people. Since joining the hockey club I’m a lot happier, finding like-minded people. I have met people from different colleges at UAL who were creative and loved sport.”
Elliot Tugwell, social secretary of football agrees that sport has introduced him to people who have common interests.
He says “all the friends I have made are through sport, the people I hang out with and the people I lived with, I met through football”.
If you thought that joining a sports team meant all sport and no play you would be wrong. There is a wide range of events that occur through the year which for some have been the best experience of their university life.
Jack Vicary, a recent graduate from UAL, told Artefact that “even though I have finished university, memories that I have made being part of a team, not only winning and loosing together but having crazy nights out, will be something i never forget, Hockey honestly changed my university life for the better.”
Varsity, tours and the Sports Ball are some of the highlights you can look forward to when you are part of a team; memories of these events and friendships made will stay with you long after your University career is over.
Elliot finds it difficult to choose his favourite memory: “I think Varsity just edges the Sports Ball; I was lucky enough to play for the football firsts in my Varsity. Its a fantastic atmosphere, 400-500 people all cheering for you” Varsity happens once a year where selected teams get to play against Goldsmiths University and a real pride for your own university comes through whether your cheering on the side line or playing the game.
Every Wednesday is a chance for all the sports teams of UAL to get together and have some fun with sport socials.
James Darby, a second year who is social secretary for all of UAL Sport, seeks out venues with the good reviews and places that have the opportunity to raise money for the Student Union.
“Sports socials are so much better than weekends. Sports nights are the best nights because of the people, you make a lot of friends very quickly in sport and going out with such a big group of friends is always going to fun, no matter where we go, although we do generally keep it cheap,” he told us.
Socials provide an opportunity to unwind and celebrate or commiserate after matches earlier that day and, when asked to sum up a sports social.
“Some people just join for the socials, in a non-campus-based University like ours, sports and societies are by far the easiest ways to make friends here. So summing up nights out with UAL Sport is difficult but I would have to say it’s consistently a great night out with loads of your mates, somewhere fairly cheap, where you don’t have to worry about anything except having fun,” Darby said.
Sport has obvious health benefits, too. Keeping active can reduce conditions such as obesity and diabetes. University life and the effects on your general health is a real concern for many students.
A recent small poll taken around UAL shows that it was clear that they felt the university lifestyle had taken its toll and had negative implications on their weight showing that 60 per cent of people asked thought they had put on weight since joining university.
There are other rewards: Sandy Loder, a recruitment adviser, believes that playing sport enables people to demonstrate assets useful in the work place:
“When looking at potential employees sport is definitely something we look at, it can show that they are a team player and as captain shows that they are able to deal with responsibility”
So there we have it – being a member of a sports team not only helps to keep you fit but also can provide you with great nights out, new friends and demonstrate your ability to work well in a team environment.
No wonder it is so popular. If you fancy giving it a try then visit the UAL sports page at www.suarts.org/groups
All images via UAL Sport