Credit: Natasha Coyle

Why you should join a sports club at university

After four years of being a student, my experience would not have been the same if I hadn’t joined a sports club.

There’s a lot to be said about sports clubs. Sometimes, those things aren’t always great. But if I hadn’t joined a sports club during my four years at uni, my student experience would not have been the same.

Although I am naturally sporty (athleisure is the overwhelming trend in my wardrobe), you don’t have to have played high performance sport to be able to join a sports club at uni. Many GUSA clubs cater for abilities ranging from beginners to national athletes. And whilst a sports club is largely about the sport, it’s also about the socials.

I played performance badminton from my first year to my last. A big thing for me was competing, yet the socials that would accompany training sessions and match days were some of the highlights of my time as a student. Whether it’s pub golf on a Wednesday, repping my pink outfit because after all, it’s a Wednesday, or a casual picnic in Kelvingrove Park with your club buddies, being part of a sports club gives you an automatic group of friends.

Sports clubs have had a bad reputation for binge drinking and peer pressure. But in recent years, sports clubs are increasingly offering sober socials. This is partly a result of many club members partaking in national and international competitions. They, understandably, don’t want to drink alcohol in the lead  up to those competitions. Not only do GUSA clubs offer a range of physical activities for all abilities, but also a range of socials to fit your tastes. Never before have sports clubs been so inclusive and diverse in what they have to offer.

When I moved to Scotland, I didn’t know anyone really. I’d spoken to the previous year’s badminton captain who I met at a tournament back in February 2022. I introduced myself and told him I was applying for a postgraduate degree at UofG. He was struck by my forwardness, but sport is a small world and I wanted to make some friends before I’d gotten to Glasgow. When I arrived in September last year, I hadn’t even attended a training session before I got invited to a birthday party by someone in the badminton club. I’d been welcomed into the sporting community at UofG with open arms.

If you join a club, you’ll be introduced to a world of people where you’ve got one thing in common for certain – the sport. Still, you’ll  often find that people in sports clubs have more in common beyond the sport at hand. And these relationships can flourish into the best relationships you might have at university. Some of my closest friends and happiest memories come from people I met through university sport: beach days after exams, spontaneous nights out, card games in the pub or at someone’s flat after a match.

There’s something to be said about a post-training/post-match drink at Bank Street. Whether you want to guzzle a pint of Tennents or an Orange and Lemonade, there’s nothing more satisfying that getting sweaty in the Stevie Building or outside at Garscube and rewarding yourself with a refreshing beverage at Bank Street, likely accompanied by some banter. Or maybe Beer Bar is your preferred place to drink. (If you haven’t yet had a Pint of Fun, you probably will.)

You get a real sense of comradery in sports clubs. Each GUSA club has a certain culture and character. If you’re not coming into university knowing what sport you play or want to join, go along to the taster sessions and see how you vibe with the people and the activity itself. Really give a number of sports a try and you’ll find one that’s right for you. With over 50 GUSA clubs, you are spoilt for choice.

I’ve only been at Glasgow for 12 months, but being part of the badminton club here has given me some of the highlights of my university career. These include the GUSA Ball in February, where we won  Club of the Year, the Spring Ball in March  (our attendance was only  organised very last minute), our weekend in Aberdeen playing at Scots Unis (getting to the quarter finals of the Mixed Doubles was a personal highlight for me), and the many pub and club trips I’ve done with people from the club. A significant part of my student social life was accompanied by sport, whether that’s the away days to St Andrews and as an Englishwoman being introduced to pizza crunch for the first time, singing along to High School Musical in the minibus to Edinburgh, or having long chats with my fellow driver on our journey to and from Sheffield for BUCS Nationals. My time at university would not have been the same without sport.

Once you join one sports club, you’ll likely get to know people in other sports clubs as well. Glasgow Uni can feel like a huge institution at first. But if you embrace its sporting culture, you’ll experience the amazing community it offers to students, alumni, and staff alike.

Whether it’s your first, second, third, or final year here at Glasgow, I would strongly encourage you to join a sports club. Not only for  the sport, but also the social life that comes with it.

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