A brief overview and look ahead to the year’s exciting Varsity series

Arch-rivals/nemesis/the evil ones...

With the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, the profile of British sport is on the up. Many cities across the UK enjoy a rich sporting culture and Bristol is certainly no exception. From the professional player to the casual fan, there’s something for everyone.

The city hosts two major football clubs, a rugby club that narrowly missed out on promotion to the premiership this year, a top flight cricket team, a healthy number of semi-professional teams, some world class sports facilities and some nationally recognised events such as the Bristol half marathon. And to top it all off, there are more pubs and bars to watch the action in than you could ever hope to visit during your time here.

And then, of course there are the two universities and the inevitable rivalry and Varsity series that comes with sharing this great city. Let’s start with Bristol University, officially founded in 1909 giving the institution has had plenty of time to establish itself on the university sporting circuit. With a string of high ranking finishes for many of its teams each year, it could arguably be forgiven for looking down on its younger, less glorified neighbour. But in the same way as Bristol University looks down from its perch in Clifton with a sense of superiority, UWE looks right back up at it with ambition and increasing ability. Our sports facilities match and in places out do Bristol’s, with yet more developments on the way. Our ranking in the BUCS tables have improved dramatically in the last few years, climbing from 65th in 2002 to 36th overall last season, and our sports teams continue to close the gap on the traditionally stronger Bristol outfits in the varsity series. With last years accusations of Bristol  cheating in a very close boat race, it’s evident that they are feeling the heat. Expectations are mounting for this year’s series, and with several UWE teams performing better than ever before, it will surely be one of the highlights of the City of Bristol’s 2010/11’s sporting calendar.

Anyone who’s ever been involved with the Varsity series will tell you what a truly great experience it is. Therefore, it’s no surprise how easy it is to get into the spirit of the occasion, with hordes of UWE students lining the terraces every season to support their friends, peers and student community. This, ultimately, is what sport at university is all about. Representing and supporting your community; either braving the cold from the stands with a beer in hand or putting the hard work in on the pitch, it serves as a valuable escape for many from the pressure of academic life. Joining a team gives you an instant circle of friends which becomes invaluable when battling through those tough times that everyone will inevitably face at some point during their student lives.

Being involved in the sporting side of student life in Bristol is something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It adds something to you, something no lecturer can teach. For those who choose to pursue it, it can build confidence, reveal strengths, remedy weaknesses and help you discover more about yourself than you could ever imagine. It’s an extra dimension to the university experience you can never fully appreciate until you get out there and get involved, so if your even half contemplating about joining a club this year, just do it, you’ll be glad you did!