Kosi Nwuba (Homerton, Medicine) reflects on the triumphs and challenges of the Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC).
What has your experience been like at the Club?
It’s been fantastic. I’ve met a range of great people and travelled the world playing the sport I love. It has offered much-needed release during busy terms. Furthermore, serving on the committee has allowed me to develop transferable skills.
What are some of your key memories of playing sport at University?
Thanks to philanthropic support playing for the football club has taken me to China twice, Portugal and Miami. These are some of my best memories of sport and I feel privileged to have been able to take part in these journeys. Other memories which stand out include playing and winning in front of thousands of fans on varsity match day.
How has sport impacted your overall wellbeing and mental health?
Significantly! Not only does it help you with meeting friends, but if you’re feeling stressed, or overworked, it is one of the best relievers. I can’t put into words how great it feels to finish a day of work and go to training with the squad in the evening. I think probably the importance of a place on a football team and my desire to always play my best and deliver for the team can sometimes lead to its own stresses but these are far outweighed by the eminent utility from the sport. I’ve been out to play the game I love and keep fit at the same time.
In order to compete with our opposition in BUCS leagues, we need to be able to hire more coaching time for training during the week, and not worry about the cost of transport and to have better medical support for matches.
What skills or habits have you gained by playing sport?
I think it’s impossible to even quantify the skills gained from playing football. Having to ensure I’m fit during the season has taught me to look after my body a lot more in terms of not only exercise I do but the food I eat. Furthermore, having to interact with a wide range of club members is an underrated social capacity. As communications officer in my third year and now president, I’ve had to interact with numerous people to coordinate the smooth running of the club. Balancing this administration commitment with playing and also keeping up with my studies has harnessed my time management but also allowed me to develop some of these soft transferable skills that are often so hard to nurture, particular when you’re busy with a Cambridge degree.
What would you say to a new student potentially interested in pursuing playing Sport during their time at Cambridge?
Get involved! You absolutely won’t regret it. If you’re worried about your activities impinging on your studies, it’s always important to remember that research shows those who are involved in university sport in some way tend to do better in their degrees than those who are not. You get the health benefits, both mental and physical, and any apprehensions you may have usually quickly disappear.
What do you see as the barriers for students taking up Sport?
The obvious barrier is time. Cambridge degrees are indescribably academically challenging and anyone who has done one will say the same. It is therefore undoubtedly difficult to balance your learning with also ensuring you fulfil your academic potential.
Secondly, often finances can be a challenge. Luckily for me, my college, Homerton College, contribute £200 per year towards my university sport. Furthermore, several colleges help financially with the various administration costs for getting involved with university sport. For the most part, particularly for football, these costs are not large but in some instances, with other sports, they can be a challenge and a clear financial obstacle. Additionally, some colleges are less committed to helping contribute to students’ sport which can create financial issues for those students at those colleges.
Is there anything you would change that would make your sporting experience easier or more enjoyable?
Funding! I was shocked when I discovered how money-strapped one of the oldest football clubs in the world at one of the most prestigious universities in the world is. Usually, each season the club has to sacrifice basic necessities such as coaches just to allow there to be enough money for players to travel to and from BUCS games. I think this is disappointing, and if there was a cultural change where sport was viewed as a priority — given its widely documented mental and physical health benefits, this would improve the experience even more.
Anything else you’d like to share about your sporting experience at Cambridge?
It’s been good. There have been times when I’ve been the only minority in the Club but this is rapidly changing as the demographics of the University evolve, which is exciting. The University is blessed with several very talented footballers, but what limits the Club from enjoying more success is the available facilities. All in all, I would highly recommend it.