Alternative Ways To Enjoy Sport At University
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Alternative Ways To Enjoy Sport At University

Seth Nobes January 6, 2022

Moving away from home to university presents students with a whole new world of opportunities. With regards to sport, the possibilities seem almost endless, with the chance to give a sport a go you may have never even heard of.

Every university invests a lot of time and money into its sports facilities and clubs. But you should not feel your only chance to enjoy sport at university is on campus. There are many reasons why you might not want to join a club. But that should not deter you if you still have the desire to exercise.

I think you will find that the number of sporting opportunities away from university still leave you with the world at your feet.

Parkrun

Parkrun is exactly what it says on the tin: a run in the park. However, there is a bit more to it than that. It is a free 5 kilometre event put on every Saturday, come rain or shine, in 730 parks around the UK, and many more in 22 other countries around the world.

Volunteers are spread out around the course, pointing you in the right direction and officially timing the event to give you an accurate time of your run. Every Parkrun has been measured to precisely 5k, meaning you don’t have to run up and down your road a few times to reach your distance goal. The popularity of the event means you will run alongside others, which I always find gives you the extra push to go that bit faster. There is a great sense of community around the event. I recommend to runners of all abilities. 

Find your local Parkrun by using this interactive map: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/events/

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NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK

The National Cycle Network is a network of cycle routes throughout the United Kingdom. It is run by charity Sustrans with the aim of encouraging more cycling in Britain. The network is signalled with blue signposts, making it easy to ensure you are pedalling in the right direction.

According to Sustrans, there are over 20,000km of signed cycling routes in Britain. These routes include disused railway lines, canal paths, and routes through cities and towns with little to no traffic. Moreover, the network is not limited to cycling, with Sustrans also hoping to inspire walking. It offers students the perfect route to escape the hustle and bustle of university life, as well as the beauty the surroundings of their university has to offer. 

Explore the National Cycle Network routes by following this link: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/

LOCAL SPORTS TEAMS

Some might find that sport is their way of escaping student and university life, which means the opportunities on campus may not be for them. However, this does not mean you should put off completely the idea of playing competitively during your degree.

With the majority of universities based in big towns and cities, there is always a local sports scene, with a surprising number of clubs. These clubs are similar in nature and structure to your local sports club back at home. In my experience, they are extremely welcoming towards students, with it often being the case that they are grateful as you significantly lower the average age of the members. 

In Great Britain there are:

Over 3,000 cricket clubs

More than 40,000 football clubs

Over 700 rugby union clubs

More than 2,700 tennis clubs 

Over 2,000 netball clubs

This means there are still almost limitless opportunities to play sport competitively while studying for your degree if you don’t want to partake in university sport. 

See also: University sport costs explained

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Seth Nobes is a freelance writer for Freshered, focusing on university sport. He is currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism, as well as the NCTJ diploma, at St Mary's University, Twickenham after graduating with a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham. Seth is also an editor for the Sports Gazette, with a keen focus on cricket. He has written and commentated on a wide variety of sports, ranging from football and rugby, to sailing and judo, for publications such as Vavel, Deep Extra Cover, Burn FM, and Redbrick. He is also a long-suffering Watford fan, for his sins.