Vision for sport

Our mission is to support students, staff and the wider community in pursuit of their health and wellbeing, and talented student-athletes in their competitive and high-performance sporting ambitions.

Vision for sport

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Participation in sport brings many benefits to students' physical and mental health. Academic and sporting excellence often go hand in hand, as well as enabling students to develop and exhibit a wide variety of skills, ensuring that they are well prepared and competitively placed in the job market.

Sport at Cambridge is undergoing a renaissance — beyond victories in the Boat Race and Varsity Rugby, increasing participation in sport and physical activity is a priority for the University. No student should be deterred from participating in sporting activities for financial or other reasons.

Sport is valued for its contribution to the mental and physical health of students and for the qualities and skills it instils and hones. The publication of the Sports Review in 2014, the approval of the Strategy for Sport 2017–2022 and the Sport and Academic Performance report in 2019, as well as an increasing focus on student wellbeing, has led to an important shift in the way the University views sport.

The Sport and Academic Performance Report found that undergraduate students who participated in University-level sport performed just as well academically, if not better, than the undergraduate population as a whole. This report considered over 4,000 tripos results of undergraduate students who had represented the University in their sport and achieved a Blue, Half-Blue or Club Colours. These were then compared to the tripos results of the undergraduate population as a whole during 2005–16

Sport is an integral part of a well-rounded education, not peripheral to it. Securing appropriate financial support for sport and sports clubs is crucial to ensuring that sport at Cambridge is fully inclusive. 

Students at Cambridge remain as competitive as ever, with the desire to push themselves intellectually, physically and mentally. All at Cambridge take great pride in our sporting success and heritage. We must now make sure that future generations have the same opportunities. 

Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education

Sport at the centre of the Student Support initiative 

The Student Support Initiative (SSI), launched by the Vice-Chancellor in 2018, puts sport and cultural activities at the very heart of the student experience at Cambridge. The SSI recognises the need for greater support for students, both to improve access to the Collegiate University and to ensure that once at Cambridge, every individual is able to thrive and participate in the full range of activities on offer. The University encourages students to participate in sport at any level, including supporting competitive team sport and high-level performance sport.

Building momentum and looking to the future

In recent years, significant capital projects have been undertaken to improve and increase the sporting facilities available, including the University Sports Centre, Ely Boathouse, Wilberforce Road hockey pitches and Cambridge Ice Arena. Funding for these developments has come from alumni, the local community and the University. A new Director of Sport, Nick Brooking, has been appointed. Nick reports to the Sports Committee, established to champion sport at the University. The Committee is chaired by Professor Graham Virgo, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education.

Established sports such as rowing, rugby and cricket have a great legacy at Cambridge, with the Boat Races on The Tideway, rugby Varsity Matches at Twickenham and cricket at Lord’s providing annual highlights in the sporting calendar. While continuing to support these traditional sports, the University also recognises the need to support new sports that are attracting greater numbers as the student demographic changes. More sporting choices will allow every student to find a physical activity that suits them — from high-performance sport to competitive team involvement, or general health and fitness— laying the building blocks for productive, happy and successful adult lives.

The Vision: redefining Cambridge sport for a new generation

With support from the University and Colleges, The Hawks’ and The Ospreys (the University clubs representing sporting excellence) and the wider Cambridge community, this is a key moment for defining and securing the future of sport at Cambridge. Our vision is to:

  • Revitalise and expand Cambridge’s sports facilities to meet the expectations of today’s students
  • Increase participation in sport and physical activity by removing barriers to access and ensuring the sustainability of clubs
  • Create better conditions for competitive and high-performance student-athletes to excel and achieve their full sporting potential at Cambridge


Next steps

For further information, or to find out more about supporting sport at the University, please contact:

Derek Wilson

Senior Associate Director — Sports, Clubs and Societies

+44 (0)1223 330015 or mobile: +44 (0)7710 376604

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