I know that joining and trying new sports clubs has been particularly difficult during the pandemic. Restrictions have made it difficult for many clubs to run anywhere close to their normal training schedules. Despite this, I wanted to discuss a little of why joining a sports club has been so important for me at University and maybe simultaneously, encourage others to give sports at university a shot.
I have been a member of the Women’s Basketball Club (DUWBC) since my first year at University. And I truly don’t know what I would have done without the club. Especially during my first year, the basketball club was incredibly important for me as it provided an immediate social outlet. Team sports are fantastic for providing a feeling of belonging and camaraderie, by working together for the same goal (or basket). Through my course I struggled as a fresher to know how to make friends. Lectures in my opinion don’t particularly suit themselves to meeting new friends. You walk in, sit down, listen to a lecture for 50 minutes and then walk back out. (It got easier in later years after seeing the same classmates all the time and having more collaborative work). But for someone, who can be quite reserved with new people I struggled to meet people on my course. This is why joining the basketball club was so important for me. Seeing the same people at multiple training sessions a week and having something in common made it easier to start building relationships with the girls in the club.
The basketball club also provided a sense of normalcy and stability that made it easier to build friendships. Moving to University so many things were new; where you lived, the people you were around all the time, and the classes. I have played basketball my whole life and so it was an activity that I felt 100% comfortable doing. Basketball was something normal to me, and so it was somewhere I could feel completely relaxed.
Playing sports at University has also been so important for my health, both mentally and physically. If assignments were stressing me out, or I just didn’t have a particularly great day the opportunity to just run around and forget about everything else for two hours was invaluable. Even when I might not like feel like I had the time to training because of deadlines, I knew that playing basketball for a couple hours would make me feel so much better. In addition, sometimes University can feel really lonely and basketball trainings and the trip to the pub afterwards for some food and good chat would do wonders for me. The opportunity to do something active with others, like basketball or any other sport, is so important in my opinion to staying healthy.
Outside of just some of my own experiences, joining a sports club at University can also provide a fantastic opportunity to learn a new skill. In my own club, some of the most active members are girls who had never played basketball in their life before. There are so many interesting sports and clubs to get involved with (and I’m sure some you may never have heard of before). Clubs are always interested in new members, so don’t get put off because you don’t have experience. I remember how overwhelming freshers’ week and the give-it-a-go week for sports can be, so one important note to make is that you can message about joining or trying out a sports club at any time of the year. Don’t get put off because you missed the give-it-a-go session at the beginning of the year, or even that you’re not in first year anymore. If there is a club you are interested in, shoot them a message on their social media and I am sure they will try and be as helpful as possible. (With a new semester starting soon, have a look into the refresher events as well). Also, if you’re not sure what clubs there even are look up the University Sports Union Instagram or Facebook. Have a scroll through and you’ll find posts about all the different sports you can get involved in at Dundee University.