Obviously, sport is so much more than the kind you see on TV, played by “professionals” who are paid ridiculous amounts of money. One of the most appealing aspects of a number of sports is the fact they can be played by pretty much anyone, with minimal equipment. So what do students hoping to get involved with local sport need to know?
Some of my fondest memories growing up are having a kickabout with my mates on the local field, using jumpers for goalposts, or playing cricket on the beach with nothing more than a tennis ball and a wooden bat. Sticks were used for wickets and hours of fun was had.
Therefore, the ability to witness something which captures the essence of both professional sport, and the sporting memories of your childhood, can only be a good thing. To do so, you need look no further than your local area.
You’d be surprised as to how much sport goes around you. For instance, 736 football teams entered the FA Cup in 2020. It won’t be too much of an effort to travel from your university house to find some live local football on a weekend. Moreover, the ECB claims there are over 3000 cricket clubs in the UK. So if you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday during the summer, a nice walk to your local cricket club is not a bad shout.
In both instances, if you need further persuasion, these local sports clubs often offer cheap pints of beer and cider during games. I know how important that is to some students.
I decided to write this article after I went to see some local sport of my own. My local team, Barnstaple Town, a semi-professional team on the ninth level of the English footballing pyramid, were playing local rivals Bideford AFC in their annual festive North Devon derby. I was somewhat sceptical at first. But the promise of half-time food, coupled with the opportunity to leave the house following the almost endless consumption of food on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, enticed me.
The right call
After seeing this game, I cannot recommend highly enough to students with an interest in sport to go and see your local team in action. It was clear before a ball was kicked that I had made the right choice by attending. The pitch was almost identical to those I remembered playing Wembley singles on, an almost universal memory for children across the UK.
The wet conditions just added to the crowd’s viewing. Nothing was held back in the sliding tackles, somewhat encouraged by the cheers of the spectators every time a player went in. Players were propelled forward by the wet surface, akin to the challenges between close friends during the rain in a school PE session.
All in all, the game was highly entertaining, with the reminders of childhood kickabouts adding to the experience. The cheesy chips at half time were another highlight, alongside a reasonably priced £3 pint.
I will definitely be going back, and will make sure to get to some more local sport when I am back at uni. I strongly advise you to do the same. You will not regret it.