Meet the City girls
Getting involved in sport and keeping active has many benefits, including expanding your social network and providing great opportunities to develop skills for your future.
However, with a busy course schedule, you may be worried about how joining a team or a sport may impact your studies.
We spoke to six City students involved in sports at individual or team level to find out how they balance their studies alongside keeping active, and about the positive impact that joining a sport has had on their academic life.
Here are their stories.
Women’s squash athlete
Emma is a Creative Writing and Publishing MA student at City and started playing squash when she was nine years old, after receiving a lesson for her birthday. Although she started as a tennis player, she says that “after a single lesson on a squash court, I was convinced.”
While balancing keeping active with a busy course schedule is “definitely a challenge”, Emma has found a routine that works for her: “I try to carve out a few hours for both study and training per day.” She finds this helps her compartmentalise the activities and allows her to adjust the hours around her schedule or deadlines. Even though it can be tough to find the right balance, for Emma, it helps improve both areas of her academic and sporting life: “if I’ve had a good training session then I’m more motivated to study, and if I feel on top of my studies, then my head is clearer for training.”
The benefits of participating in a sport and keeping active, for Emma, go beyond improving your physical health. She says, “I find it really helps my mood as well. Getting on court or to the gym gets me out of the house and helps to break up my studies.” She likes to think of it as “a kind of a mental reset”.
Emma’s favourite thing about participating in sport is “definitely the people, in all aspects of sport.” She feels it’s “great to meet other people who have the same interests”, especially considering the relatively small size of “the squash world community”. More widely, Emma feels that “there’s no end to the networking you can do” while “meeting new players, finding new people to train with or new coaches to work with”. Having those “core interests at heart” for Emma instils “a real sense of belonging”.
For anyone considering trying out squash or becoming more active, Emma says: “Absolutely go for it. Don’t worry about getting it right or doing it well, just enjoy yourself and you’ll feel so much better for it.”
Equestrian club captain
Laura has always been interested in sports, but she sees riding horses as her “obsession”. While being a Graduate Diploma in Law student alongside her role in the club keeps her busy, Laura finds that keeping active and riding for City’s team is “crucial to keeping a good work-life balance”. She says, “training is a great time to switch off from my work, and horses are perfect for helping me destress”.
For Laura, the benefits of keeping active also directly influence her studies: “Having something to fucus on other than my grades definitely makes me more productive when I’m not in the library.” Laura finds that keeping fit even helps her focus academically.
More importantly however, she finds that the best perk is “the relationship we have as a team.” The “support” offered by all the teammates and the “fun and friendly atmosphere” are at the heart of the sport and having “an all-female team this year” is, for Laura, “an added bonus”.
Laura’s advice for anyone considering joining the team is: “I would definitely recommend getting involved – it’s the perfect way to get fit, meet incredible people and get in touch with your horsey side.”
City’s Equestrian Club welcomes beginners and you don’t need to have your own horse to join. Find out more on the Student Hub.
Arinomena Rojofatratra Randrianarisoa
While Arinomena has been practicing Taekwondo for 14 years, it hasn’t always been her forte. She says, “at the beginning I was afraid, and it was more my younger sister who wanted to do it.” However, after giving it a try, “it became a passion” and she discovered “it was more fun than anything else.”
She began competing in 2008 and although her “first try was not good at all”, she continued with the practice, kept improving and won her first national title in 2012. The benefits of practice for Arinomena don’t just translate into physical health. As an MSc International Business Economics student at City, she feels that sport is also “a big part of education and personal development”.
Arinomena’s advice for anyone considering starting a new sport or becoming more active in general is: “It’s okay to fail – just keep going. What you need is to find your own way to overcome failure, even if it takes time.”
Netball team captain
Anna has over 14 years of experience in playing netball and joined her first club at the age of 12, where she began training twice per week and played league games on weekends. She says, “as a tall child, I was swiftly placed as a shooter, which is where my love for the position and sport was born.” She is now the captain of the netball team at City.
As a Journalism BA student, Anna finds that “having a balance between sport and academic work is vital to ensure I succeed both as a sportswoman and as a student.” For her, “journalism is a very active course”, and has different practical elements that require time and dedication. Anna’s practical solution is to manage her time “using a small planner where I make a note of any deadlines both sporting and academic.”
While she believes there are many benefits to keeping active including “maintaining a positive frame of mind and healthy relationship with my body”, as a “passionate team player”, for Anna one of the main perks is that it enables her “to meet other talented and dedicated sports teams and individuals.” She says: “Working cohesively as a team to demonstrate passion, drive and dedication in training and in matches is overwhelmingly rewarding”.
Anna’s advice for anyone thinking about getting into netball or becoming more active is: “Do not overthink joining a team or a sport. The thought of joining a club, team or sport can be daunting, however we are all here to be active together, sharing a common interest of improving our performance and positively impacting our mental health.”
Find out more about City’s netball team, including details on joining the team or getting involved recreationally on the Student Hub.
Lucy started swimming competitively at the age of nine and got involved in the sport through her parents, who are both coaches. She is now training to be an international swimmer.
Alongside studying Speech and Language Therapy, Lucy is “training 20 hours a week, which is physically demanding”. However, she finds the balance of training and studying very rewarding: “it also helps me mentally, as it encourages me to switch off from studying while swimming, and vice-versa”.
She says: “I would encourage everyone to try out a sport and commit to spending a regular amount of time exercising each week. The buzz you get from working towards something and finally achieving it, or winning a team match and celebrating with your teammates is really like nothing else.”
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete, there are many opportunities to get involved in sport, or to keep active at City. You can find out more about City’s teams or individual and social sport on the sport and recreation pages of the Student Hub. As a City student, you can also get discounted access to CitySport, the University’s sports centre and the largest student sports facility in central London.
Cheerleading – Central City Allstars
Casey has always been interested in cheerleading, but she “never had the confidence to try until last year”. She got involved after her friend encouraged her to go to try outs with her, and has now become the team’s social secretary. She says “I love every minute of it. It can be demanding but I love the challenge and being pushed to my limit.”
As a BSc Adult Nursing student and a future qualified nurse, Casey believes “in finding the right work-life balance”. For Casey, cheerleading has “a really positive effect” on her health and wellbeing. She aims to prioritise her mental and physical health and takes practical action to ensure that she can keep practicing with her busy course schedule.
She says, “I always make sure to tell the ward or department in advance that I cannot work Friday evenings which so far they have not had a problem with.”
For Casey, the benefits of joining the team are clear: “Since starting cheerleading, I have found myself to be less anxious. It really benefits my mental health and makes me feel great about myself.” She finds that improving her “physical health and stamina” also benefits her on her course, since “nurses are on their feet so much”.
She also enjoys the social aspect of the sport: “the sense of camaraderie is like no other and I will be forever grateful for the many teammates I have.”
Casey’s advice for anyone thinking about trying cheerleading or keeping active is “if you are interested in it, just give it a go.”
You can try out for the Central City Allstars team with no prior experience. Find out more about City’s cheerleading team on the Student Hub.