Having combined my academic life with sport ever since I can remember, the thought of playing two university sports at Cambridge never really fazed me, and throughout first year I played for the university tennis Blues and the hockey seconds team, thoroughly enjoying every single moment I stepped on the court or the pitch.
Of course, off the sports field I had to work hard to keep the balance moderately achievable, but that was all part of the joy and challenge that my first year in Cambridge posed. Around 20-25 hours a week was portioned off for my sport, including training, fitness and biweekly matches, which, combined with learning both French and Russian ab initio, required tremendous organization and planning. However, sport has always shaped my day-to-day life and I continue to reap the benefits.
Whenever I was asked, ‘how do you do it?’ I responded with surprise, since I hadn’t ever considered how I wouldn’t! But the simple answer was, that when I wasn’t training, doing early morning fitness, or travelling to matches, be it to Exeter, or North Norfolk, I was forced to be very disciplined with my time and in all honesty, it was something that I enjoyed so the minor sacrifices (of sleep most of the time!) were worth it. Moreover, the financial support provided by College through the Blues funding made a huge difference to off-setting the costs incurred through playing two university sports.
It is no secret that there are links between sport and academic achievement. Studies have demonstrated that playing sport equips a person with skills that can complement academic studies: whether it be the possession of good time-management, high levels of concentration, or the process of creating goals and working towards them. Not only is it ‘soft skills’ that are accumulated through sport, but scientific research has also shown that physical exercise can be tightly correlated with mental acuity.
The recent campaign launched by Sport England; ‘This Girl Can’, is one that should be commended, as should any campaign that encourages activity. However, the focus appears to be more on the appearance of the females taking part, rather than their efforts and achievements. I know from personal experience, as well as from seeing how well all of the members of the Murray Edwards sports teams do, that appearance is very much a minor issue when it comes to getting active. As part of my role as Sport Officer on the JCR, I am trying to bring awareness of the benefits of sport and of the achievements of our sports teams to help further encourage an active environment.
Sport has opened my world so much over the past few years, getting me into student journalism, travelling and meeting new people; experiences that I hope to take forward and learn from wherever I go in the future.