For me, sport has always been a release – something to give me some peace – but when you are at your lowest nothing like that really matters.
I played a fair bit of sport prior to University, and I tried to attend tennis practice a few times a week as well as playing badminton for Nottinghamshire when I became a student.
Over time, I slowly stopped playing and threw myself instead into my degree. I was attending lectures and doing coursework every day, Monday to Friday, and working on the weekends. I started to devalue the idea of sport and became less and less enthusiastic as lack of time took its toll.
Final year can be stressful, you can lose sight of all aspects of health and well-being when those final deadlines are looming.
I for one cut myself off from the world and, if I am being honest, felt incredibly sorry for myself. But I came to discover that these are the moments where sport, exercise and finding a sense of well-being is the most important.
I first heard of the access to sport scheme through an NTU support worker, I was still sport-mad, so I decided to give it a go. Plus, I knew I needed a break – there is only so much Trump and Obama drug policies you can research in one sitting!
I decided to attend a Basketball Play for Fun because it wasn’t on too late. I did find the whole idea quite daunting, I hadn’t played for over four years.
I probably hit the target once every half an hour – if I am honest with myself I didn’t even know all of the rules.
But everyone there was really kind and helpful. Some of my teammates who played regularly explained the rules to me in a way that didn’t make me feel conscious of not knowing them. They understood I was new to the sport – but everyone is new to the sport at some point.
I was paired up with a helper, he was supportive and was lovely to talk to. He helped me see sport as a source of joy and realise that it doesn’t have to be serious and competitive. Especially when you first begin.
The session itself was great fun, not massively competitive and allowed everyone to learn and develop in their own time. I came out later on with a big smile on my face, and a will to continue.
From that point on I was hooked. I began to attend play for fun sessions weekly as well go with friends twice a week as well. It massively helped my mood, allowing me to socialise at the same times as running off some steam.
It even got me through the long and arduous road to handing in my dissertation. I have put sport on the back burner over summer as I intended to have as many lazy days as possible.
Three years of working / attending Uni seven days a week takes its toll! However, now the new academic year has resumed I’m straight back to playing sport.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is to give sport a shot. When you feel like you want to lock yourself away and curl up into a ball that is when you need to throw yourself in at the deep end – get out into a new sport or environment.
Sport may not be the solution for everyone, but it changed my final year into a story of success. It was an experience I wholeheartedly enjoyed, and still do.
Contributor – NTU Student.