Joining a sports club is a huge part of a lot of peoples university life and most club members out there will tell you just what an amazing experience it is; training, matches, teammates becoming lifelong friends, and of course, the Wednesday night socials! But what happens if you want to join a sports club as a postgraduate, in particular a PhD research student? It can be a very daunting prospect, perhaps more so than at undergraduate level. Will you have the time? Will you make friends? Will you make the team? Will you be able to fit it around your research?
As a new PhD research student in the Biomedical Science Department here at Sheffield, I arrived 3 weeks ago undecided as to whether to join a sports team or not. I spent 4 years on the University of York’s Women’s Football and Futsal teams. Pretty much every day I was doing something involved in being on the team, whether it was training, a social or a match. I had to be super organised to fit all that around studying and revising and lab work. It was a struggle but it was so worthwhile. The commitment needed was huge. So I was struggling to decide whether I could do all of that whilst effectively working full time for my PhD.
But if you don’t try, you’ll never know!
So, what seems like so long ago, I headed to the women’s futsal trials. My fears and trepidations were eased straight away when I met everyone else. Undergraduates, postgraduates, Erasmus students, everyone is in the same boat really and everyone was there just to enjoy themselves. I made the team and every training since has been great. I have met people I would never have met otherwise, doing a huge range of courses, from all over the country and the world! Granted, the commitment is not quite as much as I was used to, with only one training session a week and monthly tournaments. But for me at this stage at university, it is realistic. I can do all my research and still take an hour out every week to run around and kick a futsal! Maybe I can’t go on socials on Wednesdays as I have to be at university at 9 every Thursday, but don’t let this put you off, it doesn’t mean you are less part of a team than anyone else.
So, my advice for anyone out there who is unconvinced as to whether to join a sports club, whether you are a PhD student, a Masters student or an undergraduate is DO IT! You won’t regret it. And at the very least it gives you a break from your studies where you can forget about that assignment or essay or practical or exam. Oh and let’s not forget the fact it means that extra chocolate bar after training can be guilt-free too!