By Alex Donaldson
Before the beginning of the new year, I talked with 3 of Strathclyde’s sports captains whose respective sports exemplify the variety of choice on display within Strathclyde’s sports union. Judo captain Justyna Kardasz, Korfball president Michael Bremner and Women’s Rugby captain Ailsa Murray talked me through what each of their clubs have to offer for freshers joining us at Strathclyde.
For the uninitiated, Korfball is a mixed gender ball game similar to basketball and netball. You have 4 men and 4 women to a team, your goal is to score as many goals into your opponent’s hoop (korf).
“It’s a really friendly atmosphere. It’s very rare that there’s anyone that has played the sport before joining the club which means we’re used to new members so it has a really supportive environment” Bremner, a masters student in cyber security, says of the club that is currently ranked number 4 in Scotland, as well as within the top 20 in the UK.
Across all levels Strathclyde sports clubs can be competitive endeavours. No club exemplifies this more than women’s rugby. Coming off the back of their most successful year ever, one in which they won not only the cub but triumphed in their BUCS League, the team now find themselves promoted into the top Scottish university rugby league, but “without taking ourselves too seriously” Murray adds.
“The women’s rugby team has a strong sense of family” and it’s easy to see why, “themed socials” among other events dot the society’s calendar and prove its reputation as one of the most fun and outgoing sports societies at the university.
Judo too maintains the competitive streak set by its peers.
“We compete at all ability levels against players from universities across Scotland in competitions. On top of this in the Glasgow teams we compete against top universities from across Europe. Not to mention the yearly BUCS championships.” Says team captain and 3rd year Student Justyna Kardasz. The Team’s Instagram is laden with medal photos with members ranging from experienced Black belts to first year beginners taking the podium.
“Judo is a Japanese martial art specialising in stand up grappling and throws as well as grounded holds and submissions. It’s the basis of stuff like BJJ and MMA and is perfect for self-defence as well as just for fitness or fun.” Kardasz explains, “just because it’s disciplined doesn’t mean we can’t have fun though”, proven by the social media pictures of nights out, sports galas and pub crawls that dot the club’s social media.
Of course the elephant in the room is the Covid-19 pandemic that seems to touch all clubs. In spite of this however the three Captains are remaining positive about their prospects.
“Currently we’re expecting to be able to hold training sessions with up to 30 people” Bremner says.
“Obviously we’ll have to be taking extra precautions. We’ll be putting in place field of play bubbles to minimise potential transmission. But the main message is that we will be back playing Korfball come September.”
Both rugby and Judo, given the physical nature of their sports, plan to take sport online to help bridge the gap to students. Ailsa Murray expands:
“We plan to host virtual training activities when Stepps is unavailable. Then we will ease ourselves into non-contact training that will be built up when permitted.”
Similarly, the plan for Judo is to ensure training can reach as many people as possible despite the physical distance. “We are organising alternative fitness trainings and other sessions to make sure everyone who wants to be involved in judo can be. This will hopefully included outdoor distanced fitness sessions among others” Kardasz adds.
The last question I asked to each of the captains was simple. “What would you say to anyone apprehensive about taking up your sport at Strathclyde?” The answers I received were as varied as the sports themselves.
“It’s a great opportunity to take up a new sport and we’re very used to new players so you should definitely sign up to one of the Freshers sessions. They should also check out our social media accounts to keep up to date with everything the club is doing.” Bremner states, his love for the sport evident.
“The most I can say is just give it a go because it has something for everyone! We train twice a week as a group as well as a women’s only session at the weekend so there is ample opportunity to join in. We’re on Instagram and Facebook so if you have any questions feel free to ask.” Kardasz adds of her own club.
And most emphatically, Murray simply and easily sums up her peers’ sentiment, “come and try!”
For more information on these and many more clubs, visit the Strathclyde Sports Union Website