Advice

The Benefits of Joining a Sports Club

IMG Footballers in action at last year's Welsh Varsity. Source: Cardiff University Student's Union

By Sam Saunders

So, you’ve fucked up. You missed the Sports Fair in September due to a combination of distance, the crowds and several hangovers and are now rueing the opportunities you may have missed, namely joining a sports club at Cardiff. Fear not, for within this column you’ll find everything you need to know about sports clubs at Cardiff, including why it’s not too late to sign up, the ways in which thy can enhance your student experience and why a committee role is the perfect chance to get involved in your club and fill a gap on that all important CV.

Firstly, we’ll address why you would actually want to join a sports club. It’s more sociable than the gym, for starters, as the vast majority of clubs have a large and active member base for new students to interact with. Joining a club will help keep your fitness up, allow you to meet a whole new group of potential friends, and give you a good distraction from your studies, which is never a bad thing. I feel like it’s mentioned a lot but not really taken on board that exercise is such a good way of maintaining your mental health; karate has certainly helped me in times when I’ve been down, as it’s a great way of taking your mind off of your problems. I also always sleep much better after I’ve done a hard training session. The social aspect of a sports club shouldn’t be understated either, whether it’s going for a drink after training, playing laser tag or taking part in the traditional Wednesday night social, being involved in a sports club is a great way to keep the social side of your life from disappearing completely. I’m not advocating doing all of these things to the detriment of your studies, they should always come first, but these events give you another chance to relax after a stressful day of uni. Also, the AU now requires all sports clubs to organise at least one non-alcoholic social per semester, with most clubs doing many more, so there should always be something to take part in, even if you’re not big on drinking.

Secondly, there are very few sports societies that it’s too late to join. A few, such as the football and rugby teams, will have already held trials and selected their teams for the year. However, it’s now a requirement under the SU tier rewards programme (societies and clubs are rated as bronze, silver or gold) to offer a half year membership, mainly to target international students only staying for one semester or those away until January. Another requirement under this scheme is that clubs have to run at least one GIAG (give it a go) session per semester, and are heavily incentivised to run two. But that’s only for the clubs that take things quite seriously and compete in BUCS (British University Championships) every week, there are many more that won’t have as stringent requirements for entry. For example, the Karate club, that I am a part of, accepts new members all year round, and we have two training sessions a week, so it should be easy for people to find a session for them. A lot of the other martial arts societies (and many more individual sports clubs) offer a first session for free, so money shouldn’t really be a barrier to trying out something new. As I’ve already said, there are numerous sports clubs that are more chilled than the ‘university’ clubs. I’m talking about course specific clubs, like journalism netball or history football, for example. There’s usually less pressure with these teams, as they play in the IMG leagues and are more about having fun on a Wednesday afternoon than competing at the highest level. As previously mentioned, these clubs still come with all of the social benefits as the university-wide clubs, but there’s also the added benefit of getting to know your coursemates a bit better. You never know, that final years advice about your assessments could come in handy! If your course doesn’t have one of these teams, fear not! These clubs are, by and large, open to anyone and from what I’ve heard, just want as many new member as possible, so why not give it a try?

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you can get out of a sports club is being elected to the committee of the club. There are usually five or six roles (or more depending on the amount of club members) ranging from social secretary to treasurer. All of the roles are of course a big responsibility, as you’d be responsible for organising socials or keeping the club’s finances ticking over, in the case of the two roles above. However, it is hugely satisfying to see your efforts make a positive impact on a club that you’ve been a member of, particularly if you feel or know that you’ve made a positive impact on the experience of your fellow members. As I mentioned in my introduction, it’s also something you can really big up on your CV, as it shows that you’re proactive and can be trusted in a position of responsibility. Committee experience would be especially useful if you don’t have any internships or part-time jobs to lean on during interviews, as you’ll need examples of challenging situations or of times when you took the lead on something. It’s often forgotten that employers want people more than employees. Sure, you might have all the right qualifications, but it you can’t fit in with all the different people at a company, how are you going to get any work done? That’s why being committed to something like this can really bring out your best qualities.

As per usual, I hope you found this column interesting and helpful and I hope many of you want to get involved in sports clubs if you’re not already! Thanks for reading guys, I’ll see you next week.

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