Contrary to popular belief, St Andrews does field teams in sports besides football and hockey, and there’s no better cure for post-independent learning week blues than taking up a new sport, or even just giving them a try. The cornucopia of sports on offer at the Sports Fayre can certainly be overwhelming. Once you’ve signed up for about a million different sports, you’ll find that it is definitely easier to know which sports you have the time and passion for once you have experienced your first few weeks here in the bubble that is St Andrews. After all, you don’t want joining too many sports to interfere with the rest of your University life and become an unwelcome burden. Below are just some suggestions of a few niche sports which may be worth trying this year, for those who are seasoned professionals or just want to try something new.
The sports clubs at St Andrews cater to all skill-levels. Besides, not all sports involve buckets of sweat. The truly seasoned sportsman plays matches with a pint of beer in his hand, and that is where pool comes in.
The Pool Society: You may have spotted the dapper Pool Society members as they colonise the corner of main bar and, despite their rather laissez faire attitude to professionalism, they are some of the finest sportsmen St Andrews has to offer. The Pool Society meets every Tuesday night for some alcohol-fuelled ‘training’ and then compete in a local pub league on Wednesday night alongside a smattering of external tournaments throughout the year. So, if you want to join a sociable sports club where lengths of a pitch are replaced by pints at the union, then pool is the sport for you.
Parkour Club: For those who think pool is too sedentary, the opposite extreme is available through the St Andrews Parkour Club. We have all seen the members leaping across chasms outside the Mathematics building and around North Haugh hoping that they’ll see us coming. For those with more extreme inclinations, it represents genuinely good exercise, although it is sometimes a little cold! Besides, who doesn’t want to channel their inner Altaïr? If braving the cold doesn’t appeal, however, there are also scheduled sessions in the sports hall to hone your skills. Futsal Despite all the obvious benefits of being in large sports clubs such as football or rugby, some prefer to play competitive sport in a smaller group. If you are one of those people then I couldn’t recommend Futsal enough.
That is not simply a typo but, in fact, a genuine sport here at St Andrews. Not only are some of the Futsal players among the finest folks for socials, but they are also extremely talented at their sport. The training times are once per week on either Friday or Sunday. For the uninitiated, futsal is largely similar to regular football just with a heavier ball and on a smaller indoor pitch. In futsal, there’s an increased emphasis on technical ability as opposed to mere physical prowess. Nonetheless, despite being on a smaller pitch, it is still a fantastic sport for fitness purposes and both the men’s and women’s teams compete at a high level. So, it is well worth a go for those who want to play a team sport without having to commit to one of the larger sports clubs.
Tennis Club: This writer’s next suggestion, and it seems an odd one given the general state of the Scottish climate, is the Tennis Club. The Tennis Club have a number of competitive teams for the especially skilled reader. However, perhaps the most enjoyable aspect is the social tennis, for those who want to give it a go without the pressure of competition. It takes place on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Athletics Union. Not only is this a fantastic way to meet new people from across the University, but it also allows you to enjoy tennis in a much more relaxed setting. Social tennis also carries with it the option of potentially pushing for one of the competitive squads later on, if you feel inclined to put your skills to the test. Indeed, even outside of the actual Tennis Club, the tennis courts at the Athletics Union are usually free to book online and, on the few days of nice weather, are well worth visiting for an hour or two. Or, if the weather isn’t playing ball, the newly opened indoor courts are a fantastic place to practice your skills, without the freezing winds. The best part is that rackets and balls are provided by the AU if you don’t have your own so even total novices can give it a go.
For those who want to channel their inner Katniss Everdeen, the archery club is a great place to test out your skills. They welcome all levels of experience and focus on indoor and outdoor archery – perfect for the Scottish weather. If you’re a quick learner and really want to challenge yourself, the club competes at both local and national levels and you’re encouraged to compete. But if the competitive side isn’t for you, they’ll still make sure you’re well catered for. For a more relaxed way to get involved in sport at the university, check out the dance club. With unlimited lessons and an end of year show there’s plenty of chance to show off your newly learned skills. They cater to all levels of ability, for those who are seasoned dancers or who have never danced before in their life – there’s plenty of lessons to get yourself stuck in and learn a fun new skill.
Weightlifting Club: For those who are big fans of the gym and aren’t really into sport, weightlifting could be the club for you. The Weightlifting club focuses on competitive weightlifting but also on flexibility and core work to really improve your lifting ability. It’s a great way to get some much sought after time in the S&C suite, meet a whole host of like-minded people, and build up your strength and fitness without the pressure of competitions.
Hopefully this has whetted your appetite for a few of the more irregular sports here at St Andrews and I would certainly advise that you give as many sports a go as possible. Don’t be put off by the fact that you didn’t join right at the start of the term – a lot of people don’t! All the sports teams here will always welcome new members regardless of skill level or experience. So there’s plenty of opportunity to test out as many sports as your timetable allows. If you are interested in joining a new sports club, the best thing to do would be to contact the club via its Facebook page and, from there, the members can advise you. Good luck and get involved!