What has the pandemic done to university sports?

How the Covid-19 lockdowns have impacted university sport

Empty Rugby fields at the University of West London

With the UK being in several lockdowns for over a year now, University life has changed just like everywhere else.

Although there has been a return to university it is nothing like it used to be with one of the major changes being the lack of uni sports available to students to participate in.

Oliver Ekwalla, 21, is the president of the chemistry society at the University of Nottingham, where he has a created several sports teams for his society with himself participating in hockey and volleyball.

Oliver (top left) with is Chemistry society hockey team.
Credit: Photo Courtesy of University of Nottingham Chemistry Society

Oliver stated that he believes that having sport accessible for everyone, not just sporty people is “very important as it gives students another outlet to play those sports and learn a new talent, getting rid of self-doubt some students may have of trying new sports.

Oliver added that doing lots of sports weekly “was the highlight of my week”.

He said: “What makes uni sports so great is that you can meet anyone and get to know people with the same interests as you. But physically it’s super important, getting those endorphins going and enjoying the W’s as well.

“The moment they took away any contact with anyone outside of your circle, the value of university decreased so much. Not being able to meet to new people, having the opportunity to lead and grow as a person was such a shame. I feel so bad for freshers as they are not experiencing the full rewards of university.”

Oliver wasn’t the only university sports president to feel the lack of sports has been a pity. Eugene Ekombolo, 21, from London, is the President of the University of West London Rugby Team.

He also expressed that sports at university “is incredibly helpful for students mental well-being because you’re keeping fit, meeting friends and getting out”, adding that “uni societies are the perfect way in to meeting a diverse amount of people”.


It’s been tough for Eugene and his team because “the lack of sports has made me and my team struggle for physical activity and this means my cardio has been really poor, I’ll probably be out of breath when I return”.

He said: “For the team it’s been tough because we haven’t seen each other properly so everyone’s demotivated physically and mentally.

“There’s real difficulty on the guidance on when we can actually play rugby, so much of the sport relies on contact and we can’t really train without that. There really are limitations to what we can do.”

Lieke Lo, 21, from the Hague, Netherlands, joined the lacrosse society when she first arrived at the University of Derby.

Playing sports was massively important for her as she has development coordination disorder and saw Lacrosse as “the perfect opportunity to be brave, trying a new sport because everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming”.

She added: “it was great to immerse myself within the British university culture.”

Lieke Lo in her team uniform of a lacrosse gameday

Lieke talked about her sadness that many students are not able to have the wonderful experience she did and learn a new sport whilst representing your university.

She said the benefit of university is that Lacrosse is such a small sport that many people discover it and learn a new hobby they never knew existed.

she added: “But unfortunately it’s a huge miss for new students as they may never get to try this sport. Also for the current team because they may never play again because lacrosse isn’t common outside of university.”


Oliver also mentioned this for other sports as “one of the anxieties of joining sports outside of uni is that people believe they are not good enough to play but at university a lot of people are new to the sport so it’s less daunting”.

With lockdown starting to ease it looks like many students may be eager to once again play sports at their universities.