University sports break records and lift spirits

Published on 5 August 2022

University of Dundee Sport has always been at the heart of student life in Dundee but it has reached new heights in 2022.

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Sport and Exercise at Dundee has taken many forms over the years but the core values have stayed the same, to create a community. Whether that is playing, coaching, volunteering, or supporting the teams at Varsity, there is always a space for you.

The launch of Piper the Penguin as our logo and mascot has helped to build this sense of community and reignite team spirit that transcends the boundaries of our campuses.

On building a community

Students have come back in numbers this academic year, 2021/22, as club membership has hit a new record high with over 3200 memberships. This is an increase of over 400 memberships compared to 2019/20, which itself was a record year. This unprecedented uptake in membership now ranks the University of Dundee 4th in Scotland for Club Membership and reflects a student body who are excited to be back and more active than ever.

Eamonn Laird, Sport Development Manager said, "The pandemic of course caused some challenges and clubs had to adapt to the situation and create an offer that was appropriate for the moment. Some of these adaptions proved to be extremely positive and remain.

"A strong example would be our Athletics Club, during the height of restrictions where outdoor running was one of the limited activities you could do, the club introduced regular social runs that were aimed at all levels who just wanted to keep active.

"These sessions have continued with a more targeted approach at beginners, helping members build their running confidence in a positive social environment. One member who arrived as a beginner at the start of the year is now taking on his first marathon this summer."

Physical activity in any form is one of the best ways to help maintain positive health both physically and mentally, however, this became extremely challenging for many students during Covid-19. Despite its difficulties students still worked with UoD Sport to prioritise their health safely.

Throughout the pandemic, with restrictions varying month to month, the sports clubs still found ways to safely deliver over 1200 training sessions and 1500 training hours with just under 11,000 attendees.

"The Sports Union introduced a new award in 20/21 to acknowledge a club or individual who has promoted, enhanced, or encouraged positive mental health and wellbeing, which was this year won by our Lacrosse Club. The club did their own mental health week where the club aimed to reduce the stigma of mental health and talk about it with the club posting quotes from their members on their social media pages."

This year has seen the reintroduction of Sports Scholarships, with ten being awarded, which offered financial support and access to the facilities at the Institute of Sport and Exercise (ISE). The athletes supported have come from a variety of sports including curling, ice skating, climbing and many more. From our scholars we have had two selections for Team GB at Winter World University Games, a Scotland International, top finishes at British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competitions and Scottish Championship Winners.

All these efforts have helped the University of Dundee finish at our highest position in the BUCS ranking for several years, ahead of larger and more performance-driven institutions. Over the last four years, Dundee has seen a jump of over ten BUCS places, re-establishing ourselves as a top 50 University.

Our clubs got another opportunity to show off their skills and celebrate sport at this year’s Varsity, the first since 2019, against Abertay University. More than 600 athletes from our clubs put up an amazing fight and took home the coveted Tay Varsity Challenge trophy once again.

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