Attention all Freshers! Did you know that one of the easiest ways to socialise at St Andrews is through joining sports societies? With an in-built social life as well as the opportunity to enter competitions, joining a sports club may be one of the best decisions you make when arriving at uni.
Sport isn’t just football and rugby (as exciting and entertaining as they are!); there are over 50 sports on offer via Saint Sport, some of which you may never have heard of. Almost all compete in top leagues alongside other UK universities, alongside welcoming those looking for more of a flexible commitment.
You’ll be able to get a sense of the wide variety of options available at the Sports Fayre, which takes place during Orientation week. Usually held at the Sports Centre, each society has a stand manned by club members, allowing new students to chat to players and get a feel for each club, as well as sign up for taster training sessions and mailing lists.
Many elements are shared between societies. Students can partake in either a competitive or recreational capacity, playing in competitions or just to exercise and socialise. They all tend to hold their socials weekly on Wednesdays, and the most significant Wednesday of each month is Sinners. Sinners night is held on the first Wednesday of every month at the Student’s Union, and is a big sports-themed club night in which practically all the sports societies partake. Clubs will set their own themes so expect fancy dress and lots of fun.
Here’s a short run-down of a few societies you may not have known you can get involved in…
Korfball is a mixed gender Dutch sport, which is similar to both netball and basketball. Anna, a second year studying astrophysics, says it’s “pretty easy” to pick up the rules if you’ve played either of those before.
Commitment to the club involves attending training sessions and playing matches at the weekend. Club members also mentioned how the social events are a “good way of taking part in the community”; despite being “nerve wracking […] especially if you don’t know anyone else” at the start of your first year, “it’s a great way to make friends and feel like ‘a part of the club’”. Korfball holds weekly socials and although there are usually drinking games, especially on Sinners, “there’s absolutely no obligation to drink and there’s always a sober social sec on hand at the social”. As with commitment to matches and training, members shouldn’t feel the pressure to do everything, and instead “just do as much, or as little, as you want. At the end of the day: it’s all about having a bit of fun!”
The club encourages those who have never heard of it to come along and give it a go — “The club does not take itself too seriously so it’s great for beginners. At the end of the day: we all love the sport and just want to have some fun, even when we lose!”
Futsal is an indoor sport, resembling 5-a-side football, but played on a smaller court with a harder, low-bounce ball. The name is of Portuguese and Spanish origin, and the original ‘rule book’ borrowed from both water polo and basketball, as well as football. Touted as “one of the fastest-growing indoor sports”, the club currently has two men’s and one women’s team, all of which play in British championships and against local unis and clubs in friendly games.
St Andrews Snowsports is one of the most prominent sports clubs at the uni, known for their frequent club nights and socials. Staz, a fourth-year History student, is their president this year. For those passionate about skiing and snowboarding, “we have weekly trainings for racers, freestylers and beginners and are always jetting off across the UK to compete”, such as on their trip to Glenshee last Valentine’s Day. There is also a much-hyped yearly ski trip every January, which last year visited Alpe d’Huez. Taking just under 500 students, Staz insists the trip “will undoubtedly be the best week of your life”.
However, the club is still open to those who aren’t such a fan of the slopes, with socials open to everyone “who likes to have a good time”; they have in the past collaborated on club nights with St Andrews SURF.
The University of St Andrews Sub Aqua club is affiliated with the British Sub Aqua Club, and describe themselves as an “enthusiastic, inclusive and diverse group of divers”. They provide training to all members via collaboration with BSAC instructors, and during the first semester of the year freshers can expect a Give-It-A-Go session in the local pool, where their sheltered water training takes place throughout the year. The club also journeys to various spots around Scotland, including to Appin in the spring, and they took their most recent annual warm water trip to the Red Sea in Egypt.
Selected as the Saints Sports Club of the Year for 2022-23, Saints Cheerleading is one of the Athletic Union’s smaller clubs but has a big impact. They won top awards at the Legacy Cheer and Dance competition in Birmingham in March, and their All Girl Level 3 Stunt Group became national champions after their victory at Future Cheer UK’s university nationals in February. No experience is required to join the club, and last year prior to Fresher’s Week they ran a buddy scheme, which allowed new students to be paired with team members so they could learn more about the club.
St Andrews also has a Parkour club, for which Ryan, a third-year chemistry student, is the social secretary. The basics of parkour are to try and get from one point to another over obstacles in “the sleekest or most stylish way possible”, whether via a roll or a kong (when you leap over an object by pushing it with your hands). “It’s not a competitive environment either – everyone celebrates each other’s achievements”.
Ryan encourages people not to “be intimidated by what you might have seen or heard about parkour — we’re a very beginner friendly club and our training sessions are structured to build up your skills!” Their social scene is “quite lively! We’re a pretty small club so everyone gets to know each other really quickly,” and Ryan testifies that “some of my best friends at uni I actually met through parkour”.
Whichever society you choose to get involved with, it’s certain you’ll make lasting friends in affable, amicable, and accommodating environments for all levels and abilities.
Illustration: Holly Ward