Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC) is unofficially recognised as the oldest football club in the world, after being founded in 1856. Fast forward to over 150 years later, CUAFC is making impressive strides in the current digital age, revamping their social media presence and also reaching out to alumni players in an effort to connect with such an extensive history. Meanwhile, both the men’s and women’s sides on the pitch compete in various British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) leagues, with the men’s Blues and Falcons enjoying victories in the opening week (20/10). Ahead of what promises to be a long and exciting campaign for all teams involved, Varsity sits down with Women’s President Tatiana Kasujja and Men’s Co-President Henry Lambert, as well as captains Frances Steele and Ben Adam, to discuss CUAFC’s overall goals for this season.

Before assuming her new role over the summer, Kasujja featured in a women’s side whose season was unfortunately plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the 2020-21 BUCS season scrapped entirely. The lack of on-field action inevitably aligned with sparse interactions away from the grass, as cancelled terms and national lockdowns combined to thwart inter-club connections. Rectifying this situation is something that Kasujja is set on during her presidency: “The main plan is to strengthen the bond between the men’s and women’s sides of the club”. She continued: “One of the biggest focuses for Kosi [Men’s Co-President], Henry, and myself is just making sure that the relations on both sides are really strong”.

“I think the current vibe and culture around the team is something that has only come in spells over the last few seasons”

Such bonds also extend beyond the current personnel at CUAFC, as the thousands of alumni that have donned a blue and white kit form part of a vigorously rich footballing heritage. On the men’s side, Chris Elliott, who was involved in the club setup back in 1984-7, recently got in touch with CUAFC to discuss his playing experience, notably reminiscing about a well-struck volley in his debut Varsity match. For the women, players like Clare Rustad, who matriculated at Homerton College in 2005 and had a spell at CUAFC, went on to earn 45 caps for the Canadian national team. Kasujja stressed the importance of reaching out to former Blues: “We’re just trying to ensure that we stay connected with players once they leave and avoid making them feel like they no longer have an affiliation with CUAFC”.

Alongside work taking place within the club, Men’s Co-President Lambert was keen to emphasise CUAFC’s external ambitions, nurturing invaluable relationships with both the student body and wider local community. After investing in a Veo Sports Camera to record this year’s games, which uses AI technology to document important moments, Lambert expressed the popularity of football at the University and a subsequent need to make it more accessible: “CUAFC runs the college football league, which contains over sixty teams and about 900 players that turn up every weekend, so there’s a phenomenal amount of interest around football in Cambridge”.

In terms of broadening CUAFC’s reach across the city, both Kasujja and Lambert provided an insight into the club’s partnership with charity Power2Inspire this year, who organise all-inclusive sporting occasions: “The highlight of our football calendar will be a ‘powerhouse’ games in either February or March, which will be a day where kids from Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools and other schools will take part in sporting activities like walking football, blind football, and lots of other fun events run by CUAFC members”.

“We definitely need to make sure we’re ready to play ninety minutes in a high-level league, which I think will prepare us really well for our next Varsity match too because it’s a big step up from before”

More timely is an inaugural Varsity match against University College London (UCL) this December, where CUAFC will be continuing their work with suicide prevention charity The OLLIE Foundation. Meanwhile, Lambert said: “We’ve also been exploring the opportunity of doing some work with Cambridge United Community Trust, potentially getting CUAFC players into local schools to talk about applying to universities or other topics, and hopefully being able to offer free tickets to kids for our Varsity match against Oxford in March”. He added: “We have a great professional football club on our doorstep who have great initiatives in the community that we haven’t necessarily tapped into as much as we could have in the past, and I’d like to see that become a lasting relationship”.

But top performances for CUAFC on the pitch are equally as crucial in elevating the club’s standing, which is something that Women’s Captain Steele is confident about: “We’re really meshing together well and we’re excited to play at an obviously tougher level following the promotion”. After topping the Midlands Tier 2 division back in 2020, the Blues find themselves in Tier 1 this season. An 11-0 debut loss to the University of Nottingham (20/10) was certainly a wake-up call to the strength of opposition.

Steele pinpointed her team’s fitness as a key factor for success: “We definitely need to make sure we’re ready to play ninety minutes in a high-level league, which I think will prepare us really well for our next Varsity match too because it’s a big step up from before”. She continued: “We had quite a few training sessions over the summer and our coach Mohammad Ghamari was just great at implementing lots of different tactics and formations, so I think it’s just a matter of getting minutes under our belt at this point”.


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Like Steele, Men’s Captain Adam is excited about the way his team is coming together: “We’ve seen a strong intake of freshers, a couple of which have gone straight into the first team, we’ve got a bunch of boys who are now second years, and we’ve also got a strong core of experienced lads in their third year”. He added: “For me, it’s a really good balance of experience and young, fresh faces who are ready to tackle the season”. Speaking on the general atmosphere around CUAFC, Adam commented: “I think the current vibe and culture around the team is something that has only come in spells over the last few seasons, but as a whole club I’ve never felt as unified as we do this year”.

Although CUAFC’s polished setup demands a rigid hierarchy, Adam was ready to point out that being in his leadership role is about more than just commanding a single squad: “Not only is it a Blues captain, it’s a club captain, and I want to be on good terms with everyone in the club”. Lambert gracefully reinforced this sentiment: “Ben’s been really great at creating that nice environment in the club where players feel welcome”. He concluded: “It’s definitely the most united and inclusive atmosphere we’ve had at the club since I’ve been here”.

With two Varsity events, various charity engagements, and challenging BUCS seasons on the horizon, it’s certainly shaping up to be an exciting year for CUAFC.