Let’s Get Physical

Sport was always something I was passionate about at a younger age. I would take part in any sport that was offered to me. No matter how peculiar, I’d always give it a go. Many I would only get the chance to participate in once or a few times, but if I could, I would take up as many as possible. When I was much younger I did horse riding and ballet. Then later on I began to do athletics and cross country – these were my favourites and I used to compete for my county, and was fairly successful.

Me taking part in various sports between the ages of 12 and 14

Me taking part in various sports between the ages of 12 and 14

However, as school and other commitments got in the way, I found I had less and less time to do the sports I loved and found myself only called up for the occasional sports day. That is, until I got to university.

I mentioned in my first blog post about how the sports teams, as well as the societies, take part in the Freshers Fair and I had intended to sign up for archery. One of the best parts of university is that you get quite a bit of free time, so that if you manage it well between reading and assignments (see my second blog post!), you have the chance to do whatever you want. I’ve found that university sports teams can be a great way to use some this time – they are fun, convenient and a great way to meet new people. Plus, I kept my promise and have been doing archery every Tuesday and Friday morning.

I’ve found that as archery is perfect for me, especially round my schedule. Being early in the morning means I can go before or after my lectures, especially as I am already on campus. Plus you don’t have to show up every week, you meet a lot of new people and get to socialise in a really different and interesting way.

The Archery Team from last year. I'm looking a bit awkward on the left.

The Archery Team from last year. I’m looking a bit awkward 4th in from the left.

Because it’s so diverse, you meet people on different courses, some even doing masters or postgraduate studies. One of the highlights from this year is when archery got to ‘host’ our monthly sporting celebrations, called the ‘Hail Mary’. We all got together as a team, it was really fun and we all had a good time. Joining the team also means that I’m finally doing some exercise again, and though I can hardly claim it’s getting me fit in the conventional sense, my arms and back muscles are apparently getting stronger. Plus it’s fun to do a sport that’s quite difficult or rare to find elsewhere.

Halloween Archery this year. Zombie targets and we had pumpkins to shoot too!

Halloween Archery this year. Zombie targets and we had pumpkins to shoot too!

With the sports teams, you also get the chance to compete. This can be in university, inter-university (against other uni’s), locally, nationally, and sometimes internationally. There is also the chance, for those who only wanted to do sports occasionally, without the pressure of joining a team, to do ‘Get Active’ sessions. These sports include badminton, dance, diving (at the Olympic pool!), swimming, table tennis and so many more (including archery!)

For those who would prefer to try something completely different we also have a number of societies offering some more unusual sports. Extreme Sports Society does what it says on the tin – they’ve done bungee jumping, sky diving and all sorts of unconventional sports in the past. There is also a rock climbing society, making use of the very local Mile End Climbing Wall, which I’ve also been recently trying out, picking it up from when I was younger (see top image). You might also have seen in my first blog post that the Harry Potter Society have a Quidditch Team. Although the first tournament of this year has not yet happened, I really enjoyed participating in this last year.

Quidditch team huddle before our match.

Quidditch team huddle before our match.

This involves a lot of exercise and we did quite a bit of training, so I really felt the fitness difference. Plus it was really fun to get to some running again, as I’m not really good enough to join a proper athletics team any more. My team mates were great, although a word of caution to anyone thinking of taking it up: it’s a contact sport so it can get a bit violent! Sort of like a cross between netball and rugby, so always wear a gum shield (trust me).

My team mates were so lovely and I made some really good friends there. Plus, because we play in houses, you get to see these people outside sports fairly regularly at meetings and other Harry Potter Society events.

The Gryffindor Quidditch Team Champions

The Gryffindor Quidditch Team Champions, I’m 3rd in from the left.

Despite all this, I understand that sports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but university offers the opportunity to just try them out. You get the chance to do a lot of sports you might not have even seen or heard of before, and it’s a great way of meeting new people. Alternatively you could join a sports team as part of the committee. If say, you liked a particular sport but didn’t want to, or couldn’t participate, you could become their treasurer or run their social media instead. There are so many ways to get involved!

There are also plenty of other things to do in your new-found free time at university, whether it’something new, or something you’ve always wanted to try, university gives you that opportunity.

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