We spoke to Lancs students about their experience with sports this year
Let’s be honest, it’s not going to be the same
Covid-19 has impacted every aspect of student life at university, sports being no exception. With limits on how many people you can mix with, self-isolation rules and social distancing in place, it poses a new challenge for sport societies. We spoke to student athletes at Lancs about their experience with sports this year and the difficulties they’ve faced because of Covid.
Matt, Second Year
“Benchball was always a great way to start off the weekend. Heading down to the sports centre on a Friday afternoon to play for an hour with a great group of people was good fun but now we’ve not been allowed to start up again. It was a great way to meet new people and we were just starting to get competition […] We were planning on returning this year and giving it a good go.”
Amelia, First Year
Though most are happy to get back to playing sport, it seems that the guidelines for some sports seem to vary. Amelia, a first year rugby player told us: “With everything going on and being in Tier Three, it feels like after being inside for so long, that this isn’t something that should be allowed? I am super happy to play of course, but for example, one of my flatmates wants to play netball and that’s not running, whereas rugby is a contact sport… they are being very safe, but at the same time it makes me a little worried.”
One of the challenges faced is what happens when Covid rears its ugly head, as anonymous says: “I’m a part of the women’s basketball team and around two weeks ago we found out practice was starting. I was a little surprised to be honest, but excited. We held tryouts for freshers or anyone who wanted to join the team last Wednesday then on Monday we found out that two of the girls who’d come for tryouts tested positive, but they were asymptomatic cases.
“Because of that, the team collectively decided that we should be isolating and some of us got tested. Those tested had a negative result so that was a sigh of relief. But we still plan on returning to practice next Friday and will definitely take more precautions.”
Amrit, Third Year
Despite the obstacles faced, teams are adapting to make sport as fulfilling as it can be. Amrit, a third year swimmer told us: “[LUSWP] worked so hard to get us in the pool, in small bubbles that will run all term! We swim with a select group of a few people in our lane and stop at different places along the length of the pool so that we’re not within two metres of anyone else! The welfare team have been really on the ball, checking in on us lots and providing fun team challenges including the team doing 3000 press-ups in November to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust!”
Rachel, First Year
As many will know, joining sport societies can be a really important chance for freshers to meet new people outside of their flat and many go on to live with these people. However, this year, with trials being pushed back by government and university restrictions, freshers are not getting this chance, as Rachel points out: “Obviously, normally you’d be doing sport from the very start and meeting new people besides your flat mates, whereas this year trials are only just started (some have only just started) and houses for next year are already going, so we need to choose who we live with now, when we haven’t even had the chance to meet lots of people.”
Lara, Second Year
“Sport this year has been difficult, naturally. As President of my uni club, my largest struggle of this pandemic has been that since the staff were furloughed in March, I was unable to get access to the emails for my club, which is the crux of my job. Not only did this mean that I was wasting months of my training validity, but my chairman was overworked doing my job as well as his.
“As President it is also my responsibility to be the Health and Safety Officer, which naturally includes risk assessments. There are few things more painful than writing a risk assessment for Covid-19 in a ball sport, but we got there in the end. Things have improved in the last week having been able to move indoors with the government approving our return to play plan finally, and we hope to begin recruitment in the coming fortnight. It’s looking up, for now.”
“As a university sportsperson, to see them so callously and arbitrarily decide that the multi-million pound facility built to improve sport at our university is to be out action for at least three months is ridiculous. Every indoor sport will be impacted by this, but the outdoor sports that have enough university support to have four university teams PLUS four teams per college have barely been impacted. It’s the ‘smaller’ clubs that get pushed to one side with this.
“I’m just disappointed that sports are one of the only things that we’re allowed to do again, and yet the university has told us that regardless of the advice on sports they still have the final say on whether we can train or not. If they pull the plug on university sports then I can say this will have been the final nail in the coffin for my final year in a place that I used to love.”