The Athletic Union held their Sports Fair in the Sports Centre today
I went along to see what was on offer and was astonished at the number of official sports under the AU banner. When I started in 1971 there were only the ‘major’ sports on offer; football, cricket, rugby, hockey, netball, squash etc
Now there are THIRTY SEVEN: sports that the average student in 1971 would not have heard of such as korfball, american football and trampolining; women’s versions of football, rugby, cricket and basketball; sports that in 1971 seemed to be far too ‘posh’ for Keele such as rowing, equestrian, fencing and even shooting, yes you read correctly, shooting; and sports that would not have been considered sports then, like cheerleading (the second largest club in the AU!) and ultimate frisbee (one of the most successful clubs in the AU, ranked 4th nationally)
All these clubs take part in competitions run by BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) throughout the year. As ever, fixtures take place on Wednesday afternoons, with some weekend tournaments and championships. Some clubs play ‘extra curricular’ fixtures. Football, for example, fields 5 teams, with the 1st and 2nd XIs playing in the Staffordshire County Senior League on Saturdays
A decidedly positive development since the 70s is Play 4 Fun – ‘a project created for the sole purpose of engaging students into various sporting activities just 4 fun. The activities are open to all students at a minimum cost and all sessions in Freshers’ Week are free!’ Play4 Fun activities include Rave Rowing, No Strings Badminton, Rounders, Pop Lacrosse and Futsal
Reading through the literature and talking to the representatives of the various clubs, I was struck by how many are actively involved in charity work, with 9 of the clubs making specific reference to it in their offical blurb. The swimming club raised £2400 for charity last year by ‘destroying’ the Three Peaks Challenge, while men’s football raised over £4000 for Marie Curie via a Keele to Paris bike ride
One slightly disappointing thing for me, particularly in the wake of our recent success at the Rio Paralympics, was that there seemed to be no mention of, and catering for, disabled sport. I may be wrong on this and will follow up with the AU, but I found it odd to say the least
So, faced with this smorgasbord of sporting choice, what have I signed up for? The obvious one to start with was golf. I’ve always wanted to try archery and shooting so have signed up for taster sessions in those. My next few choices are arguably much less sensible – football, cricket, rowing and mountaineering. The Freshers’ football trials are on Wednesday afternoon, which will go a long way towards telling me how insane I am! Watch this space…!