University Sports CentreLouis Ashworth with permission for Varsity

Feeling like you want to try getting into a new sport this year? Well then the University’s ‘Give it a Go’ sessions are just for you.

After a successful launch at the start of this academic year, the University has decided to continue its free taster sport sessions for all students. With many having committed to doing more exercise or trying out a new sport with our new year resolutions, the Give it a Go sessions provide the perfect way to get involved in a low commitment and fun manner!

The sports on offer through this scheme range from those that will be quite familiar like badminton, volleyball and mixed netball, to less common sports like Ultimate and pickleball, all at a friendly beginner level. Most importantly, all the sessions are free, and you need none of the equipment! If you want to get involved in any sessions you can simply book them through the Cambridge Sports app available on the app store.

The University Sports Centre’s commitment to continuing to support and run these free beginners-welcome sessions represents an important growth in the sporting environment in Cambridge. The aim is to help welcome new people to get involved in sport who previously had been put off by high commitment levels, high sporting intensity or who just had never considered themselves good at sport.

This push to broaden participation and make sport more welcoming has included the addition of other University Sports initiatives such as the new social badminton, five-a-side football tournaments and squash leagues created for Lent term. Once again, the University has made these social tournaments free and open to all, in an effort to remove as many barriers to sport as possible.

Callum O’Shea, the coordinator for the Give it a Go sessions for the Cambridge University Sports team, shared with Varsity the plans and ambitions for this project. They commented: “In the future we would like the programme to grow, and based on the numbers of people attending so far it is clear that there is significant demand. Obviously as the programme does grow and as people develop new skills, it is important that there are suitable ‘exit routes’ for the programme too, for people to continue playing and perhaps progress to a higher level away from the Give it a Go sessions. With this in mind, we have launched social badminton and squash leagues this term, and will look at increasing the quantity and quality of college sports leagues and other recreational leagues over the course of our 2023-2027 Strategy.”

The hard work the University has put into extending its free sports offering to allow students to become more engaged and broaden participation should be celebrated as a step forwards. Schemes like these will hopefully continue to break down the barriers to being involved with sport while reducing traditional sport elitism.


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Callum O’Shea further elaborated on the potential benefits that broadening access to sport will hopefully bring to the University: “We are working very closely with the University and college wellbeing staff, as it is recognised across the collegiate university what a huge positive impact physical activity can have for general wellbeing. That is not to say it is a guaranteed solution for all problems, but the programme is all about having fun and making friends, and getting some exercise at the same time, and that’s important as part of the overall student experience. Through the programme, we really hope to engage lots of students who would not otherwise be engaged in physical activity – the programme reduces some barriers to participation, including cost. It’s important also that it provides a space where everyone is learning and developing together, and so there’s much less fear of embarrassment that a beginner might have if they were playing with people who are very experienced.”

All that is left to say is that if, this term, trying out a new sport and meeting new people is on your new year’s agenda, perhaps it is worth going along to one of the sessions.