University of Bath - Students have access to some of the world’s best sports facilities
Game on
From top-of-the-range facilities to healthy living initiatives, Simon Fry rounds up the latest sports news on campus
Posted by Rebecca Paddick | October 05, 2015 | Sports & leisure
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Across the country universities are installing and updating infrastructure to give their students and local communities exciting and engaging sporting opportunities. From new kit to revamped facilities, universities are ensuring their students maximise their sporting life while they study.  

Sports experience

The University of Worcester, Loughborough University and the University of Bath were all recently nominated for the 2015 College and University Business Officers (CUBO) Awards, in the ‘Excellence in Student Sports Experience’ category. Worcester’s sporting reputation has been built upon its range of innovative courses, spectacular facilities and close links with a range of professional sports clubs. Opened in 2013, the University of Worcester Arena is England’s first indoor sporting facility designed specifically with the needs of the wheelchair athlete in mind.

ABOVE: Work continues on the University of Nottingham’s £40m David Ross Sports Village

Earlier this year, the Arena won the prestigious Guardian University Award in the ‘Buildings that Inspire’ category, and the venue hosted the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, a qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Paralympics. The captain of the national women’s wheelchair basketball team, Sophie Carrigill, is one of numerous first-class athletes studying and training at Worcester in recent years.

Catering to all levels

Loughborough University, also nominated for a CUBO Award, has seen a huge growth in sport participation, both in a playing and also a volunteering and coaching capacity. These opportunities come in many forms, be it representing the University in the Athletic Union, playing in recreational hall-based competitions within the Intra-Mural Sport (IMS) programme or simply turning up and playing with friends in the My Lifestyle programme. The Loughborough Sport pathway means that whatever a student’s ability, there are a number of ways to get involved, keep fit and make friends.

Continued investment

The University of Bath’s students have access to some of the world’s best sports facilities, with more than 8,000 students (well over 70% of the student population) participating in sport weekly. The university has continually invested in sport and the £30m Sports Training Village is the hub of its extensive facilities. It is the national training centre for many sporting bodies, including British Swimming, British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association and Pentathlon GB. It’s also the home for numerous Olympic, Paralympic and World medallists.

ABOVE: University of Bath students have access to the 50m London 2012 Legacy Pool

At Bath, there are 49 student-run sports clubs, ranging from traditional activities like athletics, football, hockey and swimming to modern activities such as cheerleading, dodgeball, gliding and mountaineering. At performance level, around 1,500 students represented the University of Bath during the 2014/15 British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) season and helped to continue a decade-long run of finishing in the top five nationally.

Students have access to the same facilities, with a Sports Pass allowing them to swim in the new 50m London 2012 Legacy Pool; play tennis, squash and badminton; and use the athletics track, artificial pitches and indoor sports halls at no additional cost. The thriving Students’ Union runs student sport on campus, providing social and recreational  – as well as competitive – opportunities. 

New heights

Sport is heading to exciting new heights at The University of Nottingham as work continues on its £40m David Ross Sports Village at the University Park campus. Three times larger than the previous centre, the DRSV includes a climbing wall, glass-sided squash courts and an innovative sport science centre alongside a 200-station fitness suite and two adjoining 10-court sports halls. Construction remains on course to be completed by September 2016, with several other recent investments and developments also underway. 

Social aspects

As well as upgrading estates and buying the latest equipment, universities are also coming up with innovative healthy living projects to get people not so sports savvy into a more active lifestyle. The University of Hull’s Fabulass sports and exercise programme is designed exclusively for women. Steve Curtis, sports development manager at the University’s Sports and Fitness Centre, said: “Our main aims for Fabulass are to enhance the fun and social aspects of keeping fit while empowering women to be physically active. We’ve ensured the programme’s branding is new, fresh and appealing and have deliberately chosen to hold the sessions on a Wednesday evening to attract participants who are not in a University sports club already.”

ABOVE: The University of Hull’s Fabulass sports and exercise programme, is designed exclusively for women

Fabulass has been extremely popular so far, inspiring 50 females to take part in the programme with an average of 22 staff and students attending weekly. The programme is expanding to two sites this September with sessions being held at the campus fitness centre and the Lawns. One student said: “I really enjoyed the fact that all the girls were motivated for every session no matter what sport it was! I really liked the staff as they were always so nice and patient with us.”

Paying tribute

As well as the multiple health benefits, sports facilities can also pay tribute to a university’s most worthy alumni. Oxford University is to name the first phase of its new sports centre at Iffley Road after Olympic rower and scholar, the late Dr Acer Nethercott. Dr Nethercott, who passed away aged 35 in 2013, won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, among other honours and also coxed three Oxford University crews to Boat Race victories. As an Oxford student he received a first-class undergraduate degree in Physics and Philosophy and went on to complete a doctorate in the philosophy of language.

The Acer Nethercott Sports Hall will be the first building planned in the centre’s redevelopment. The complex is also home to the running track on which Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954. Dr Nethercott’s mother, Glynis Evans, said: “The idea of naming the new sports centre building after Acer is awesome (to use a word he himself would have used). It is a source of comfort, as well as one of huge pride, to continue to hear of Acer's lasting impact and I am deeply touched the new sports centre will be named after him.”

ABOVE: The Acer Nethercott Sports Hall is phase one of the new Iffley Road Sports Centre, at the University of Oxford

Subsequent phases of the project will include an indoor tennis centre, a combined rugby and rowing training centre, and a new grandstand incorporating a cricket school. Money spent on sports facilities and initiatives now will have an immediate impact through increased student intakes, but there will also be less tangible returns on investments. For many students, overcoming body image issues will lead to boosted confidence manifested in a more fulfilling, happier life. A love of sport should lead to a healthier lifestyle – for graduates and their ensuing offspring – with the seeds of this healthiness sewn on the sporting pitches – whether natural or artificial – of the country’s universities.  

ABOVE: The late Dr Acer Nethercott won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing

Subsequent phases of the project will include an indoor tennis centre, a combined rugby and rowing training centre, and a new grandstand incorporating a cricket school. Money spent on sports facilities and initiatives now will have an immediate impact through increased student intakes, but there will also be less tangible returns on investments. For many students, overcoming body image issues will lead to boosted confidence manifested in a more fulfilling, happier life. A love of sport should lead to a healthier lifestyle – for graduates and their ensuing offspring – with the seeds of this healthiness sewn on the sporting pitches – whether natural or artificial – of the country’s universities.

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