The University of Bath has, arguably, some of the best sports facilities and teams in the country. Home to some of the country’s top Olympic and Paralympic athletes, it also offers lots of opportunities to students who wish to start or get better at a sport. I joined the University's volleyball club, after having played for a couple of years. I was put into the recreational team following virtual trials and I had a great time playing and meeting some wonderful people. In this blog, I will be sharing insight on the Team Bath Sports Training Village, sports clubs, and my overall experiences.
Facilities: Sports Training Village
The Sports Training Village (STV) is where all the sports facilities are, next to the Arrival's Square (where the bus arrives). It has both indoor and outdoor facilities, including a Gym & Fitness Centre, tennis courts, athletics tracks, swimming pool and a multi-purpose sports hall, where we play indoor volleyball. Our club also uses the beach volleyball courts. Here's more information on the facilities. Due to COVID, most of the facilities were shut during the lockdowns but they are open again now.
All students have a free Sports Pass, which allows them to access most of the facilities in the Sports Training Village for free and daily. To book the facilities, you need your university email and a personalised PIN code. This can be set up at the STV with the help of the staff.
The volleyball courts are always set up and regularly maintained by the staff. Some equipment is also available to borrow and always in a good condition.
Please watch my video tour of the STV.
The university has 50 student sports clubs, run by the Students' Union (The SU), ranging from rugby to canoeing. This year, due to COVID, you could buy a £10 sports pass, which allowed you to join as many clubs as you wanted.
Recreational vs Teams
Every sports club is divided into teams and recreational. Teams are for more advanced players and imply that you are training for competitions. For volleyball, at least, there are three teams, the 1st Team being the most skilled and the 3rd Team for developing players. Members are sorted into the teams at the beginning of the year through trials (except for this year due to COVID). Recreational can be for beginners and are mainly for fun or to develop skills.
In normal years there are several in-person socials, where members of the club get to bond and have fun. With COVID, the clubs were able to offer virtual socials, such as online escape rooms and movie nights. I had one in-person social this year with the volleyball club back in October, where members were sorted and placed in tables of groups of 6 at the East Village.
During COVID, it was more important than ever to look after the well-being of the club members. The focus was placed on both physical and mental well-being. The volleyball club offered regular skills, fitness, and yoga sessions to keep in shape, as well as workshops held by the mental health charity, Mind.
When restrictions eased a bit in April and we were able to play beach volleyball outdoors, the club made a WhatsApp group chat with all the members included. This was a great opportunity to meet other people and provided a sense of community. I have made so many friends this way and played many more sessions together.
Even during the lockdown, the club provided volleyballs to its members to practice. I was able to borrow one and practice with a friend on the fields, which was still quite nice given the circumstances.
My overall experience
The overall facilities of the Sports Training Village really show great quality and are definitely unique in the country. Processes for booking are smooth and the staff there are always happy to help.
And for the clubs, as hard as the circumstances were this year during COVID, joining the volleyball club is still one of the best decisions I've made. I was still able to make many friends from all years, in the 3 months that we were able to play in person.
It really is one of the best ways to meet new people, since you are bonded by a common interest and the socials organised by the club allow you to get to know each other outside of sports. It has a very strong sense of community and diversity; especially the recreational team, which is mixed with men and women.