‘Spirit in Sport:’ A university footballing event that transcends sport

An image depicting two people playing football at the University of Derby with the Faith and Belief Month logo and 'Spirit in Sport.'
The event that hopes to bring people from all backgrounds together over a common interest. Photo: Lauren Hunt-Newham.

As the University of Derby celebrates Faith and Belief Month throughout May, the university’s sports centre prepares to host an event designed to promote inclusivity across backgrounds through a much-loved activity.

On Friday, May 17, the sports centre, in collaboration with the University of Derby’s Multi-Faith Centre, will be hosting the ‘Spirit in Sport’ event where they are inviting students to use their facilities and equipment to play football from 4-6pm.

Adam Dickens (58), from Stourbridge, works as the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy Team and as the Anglican Chaplain at the UOD Multi-Faith Centre. He explained more about the event:

“It is part of a series of events happening during Faith and Belief Month which are designed to showcase the fact that there are lots of people within the university community, both students and staff, who have with a faith identity.

“Some are explicit and obvious, but quite a few will be personal or private.

“This whole month is a way of acknowledging the value that people’s faith has to them as a motivating and inspirational influence in how they live their lives.”

Dickens also elaborated why the Multi-Faith Centre were keen to work with the sports centre for an event.

“It is designed to promote the idea that those of us with different faiths are just as interested in sports as the rest of us. Different beliefs do not preclude you from enjoying and participating in sport,” said Dickens.

“I think sport is a great way of bringing people together from a range of traditions.

“If you are working as a team and trying to win something, sport helps to act as a unifying force, whatever your faith.”

Lucy Kenworthy (22), from Sheffield, is the university’s Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator at the sports centre and is responsible for organising sporting events that can enrich the university experiences of students.

“It is free, you can turn up on the day or book onto it and all equipment will be provided. And, of course, anyone is welcome,” said Kenworthy.

Having participated in sport at local university Sheffield Hallam, Kenworthy understands just how powerful it can be in socialising.

“Sport made my university experience complete, and I think it can have the same effect for people who get involved in these activities,” Kenworthy explained.

“For me, sport is a great opportunity to meet new people, it is a relaxed environment, and people will already have common ground to talk about through the football.

“It is like a barrier that has already been broken down.”

Lucy Kenworthy pictured outside the UOD sports centre.
Lucy Kenworthy’s role is centred around the well-being and enjoyment of students through sport. Photo: Jolyon Wright

However, while ‘Spirit in Sport’ is important for health and well-being, Kenworthy acknowledged how it has a greater meaning than simply kicking a ball around.

“It is a fun game of football to try and bring people from different faiths and beliefs together and celebrate that aspect of our community.

“There is quite a lot of different societies involved at the Multifaith Centre, such as the Islamic and Christian societies.

“I want people to have fun and enjoy themselves. I hope it can help increase knowledge and awareness of the different groups at the university to respect and honour each other.

“I want us to be able to celebrate everyone’s differences.”

Dickens echoed this: “I think we would like people to learn about the place that faith has in peoples’ lives, but also that people from different convictions can come together and work on a common project that is good for everybody.

“Primarily, it is about bringing people together.”

‘Spirit in Sport’ will be taking place on the top 3G at the sports centre at the Kedleston Road campus. You can find out more about the event and sign up here.