Mini Support for Minority Sport

By refusing to recognise the potential of smaller clubs, Durham is restricting its sporting prowess, OLIVIA AL-ADWANI tells The Tab.


Two years ago Durham’s girls’ gymnastics team  surpassed previous achievements to come 4th in the BUCS competition. Likewise, last year was almost equally successful despite being forced to only take half their team due to injuries.

This was achieved even though they have to pay for training facilities, transportation, and their coach. For many of the bigger Durham sports teams this is not the case.

While the big clubs like rugby and rowing are showered with gifts of pitches, coaches, and sponsorship, smaller teams like gymnastics are left digging through their piggy banks to support themselves.

But being part of a minority sport in Durham isn’t easy.

Practices are not supported by Team Durham anywhere close to the level that the top tier teams are, and Hild Bede West Gym is not the place to train top-level gymnasts with any great success.

In contrast Durham University Tennis Club’s webpage states “There is now an opportunity for players to train indoors and receive coaching seven days a week”, and their ‘Tier 1’ status within Team Durham grants them, and other teams of this status,  a vast array of special treatment not afforded to the lower tier teams.

Examples of these Tier 1 perks are:
– professional fulltime coaches
– fitness support
-on-site doctors
-video analysis
-mentoring

Other universities such as Loughborough are backing their minority teams, their gymnastics team are outranking ours at BUCS when in terms of ability, last years’ captain Olivia Al-Adwani is “confident we have the potential” to beat them. Loughborough is just proving that it is possible to support the minority teams with great success.

Durham’s Girls Gymnastics Team 2011

Sure, Durham students love to support our fellow teams and the success of the rowing and other big clubs is a joy to every Durham student, but I’m convinced we could have a lot more to be proud of if Team Durham spread their wealth around and allowed a few minority teams to grow.

By refusing to recognise the potential in the smaller clubs, Durham is restricting its sporting prowess and sadly this isn’t just a problem with our university. Minority sports are underrepresented in universities across the country.

Surely the Olympics this year should be testament to the fact that minority sports deserve credit? Britons enjoyed many minority sport medals this year, and imagine what could have been achieved with a little backing and belief!

Olivia Al-Adwani is just one athlete in many who hopes to see a change in the way our university, and others, treat their smaller teams and the way the public do too.