Sport for all at Marjon: The positive impact of sport on your university experience

During my first visit to Marjon I recognised the fantastic sport and exercise facilities that the campus offers. This includes large areas of both indoor and outdoor space. Indoors is  a large sports hall, a sleek gymnasium, a fantastic newly renovated gym and a swimming pool. The outdoor space includes two football pitches (both grass and turf), hockey pitches and tennis courts. From the moment I joined this university, this was something I could not wait to explore. However, there are many students that would argue sport is not the be all and end all and they may have little or no interest at all in sport and disregard these facilities. Interestingly, having studied at Marjon for three years now, I have got to know so many students that arrived at university with that attitude, but later decided to take up a sport for the ‘social’ aspect and now have a newfound love for a sport. One which has essentially changed some people’s lives. Whatever you decide to do, never rule out sport because it provides a great opportunity to find friendship and this is what this blog is about.

Although sport may not be of everyone’s interest, at Marjon it is not just a way of keeping active and burning calories, but it is a fantastic way to meet new and different groups of people and develop friendships. Wednesday’s are the fixture days, and on this weekday, you will notice the atmosphere at the university, particularly when there is a big win! The nights out which follow the fixtures are undoubtably the best night of the week, where the students of Marjon unite.

In my first year, I attended one netball session. When I arrived at the netball session, the students who were now in their second or third year, or in some cases, fourth and fifth years, appeared to be fantastic players and super confident, which was everything I had aspired to be when I began university. However, I didn’t return because I was nervous and scared, and I did not feel good enough to be part of a university netball team because of the high standard. Even though I had always played netball from a very early age and developed a strong passion for the sport, my lack of confidence got the best of me.

Throughout the course of my first year, I wasn’t exercising enough; however, I always felt like there was something missing. Fortunately, I ended up meeting lots of the ‘netball girls’ at different social events and through student ambassador work, who I can now call some of my best friends. These girls were the people that have made my university experience extra special and memorable. Consequently, I joined the netball club in second year due to feeling more confident at university and having already made friends with some of the team. I knew that it was only right for me to return and this was the best decision I made.

I have always regretted not returning to netball in my first year and I wish I had someone to encourage me to participate. Instead I crumbled. I strongly believe that my first year would have been a more positive experience if I had committed to netball, rather than letting my feelings and emotions take over. This is my message to you, GO FOR IT!

Get stuck in and make the most of your university experience. I want to be that person to encourage you to participate in sport, whether you have played sport all your life, like me, or if you want to try something new for the first time. At Marjon, we have a various sports teams ranging from swimming and water polo, to rugby and football to dance and netball. Whether you’re 18, living away from home for the first time or in your 60’s with three children, Marjon sports teams welcome everyone, and this is the beauty of this university. If you want to play competitively, we have teams that play in local leagues and university leagues, or if you do not want to compete, we have social teams which are great for still taking part in the sport.

I got picked for the second team when I committed to netball in my second year. I then progressed and got asked to be part of the first team Varsity squad in my third year. This was such a cherished moment. Varsity is a pretty big deal at any university, which is where most sports teams compete against another local university in the summer term.

We train all year round and most sports teams have a coach, who are employed to support and develop the game play of Marjon. Some clubs are student led, and within each sport club, students take on a number of different roles, for example, team captains and vice are assigned to each sports team, and there is a ‘social secretary’ who organises the events and gatherings of the club which enhances team bonding and much more. These opportunities can help you build your professional development, particularly if you are training to become an educator or a leader.

Whether you like sport or not, and whether you believe you’re good or not good at a sport, I believe that becoming part of a team has a positive impact on your university experience. The ‘netball girls’ are not only the people I see at training sessions and matches; they are also my best friends. I have made friends for life at netball and if I hadn’t joined this club, then I may not have ever crossed passed with some of these girls. The social side of sport, I believe is undervalued. Overall, I think it is super important to get involved with the sports as it’s allows you to not only develop new skills and friendships, but it also allows you to develop as an individual too.

Thank you to Molly King for writing this.

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