Going Higher: Spice up skills with sporty choices

Universities in the North may not all be renowned for their sporting prowess but they do have some fine facilities. Lottery money has provided a recent boost, writes Maureen O'Connor

There's sport you watch and sport you take part in, and while the north of England can more than hold its own on the first count, its universities lag just a tad when it comes to success on their own fields and tracks. Top honours in terms of team game fixture results for men and women go to Midlands universities. But Leeds and Sheffield came equal fifth last year and Durham and Northumbria were not far behind, at eighth and tenth respectively.

If you add in the consistently successful teams at Manchester, the region is not outclassed.

And when it comes to facilities, some of the northern Universities can hardly be beaten. As the Virgin Alternative Guide puts it, sport is big news at Leeds, and there are facilities to match. There are two sports halls, one with capacity for 1,500 spectators, and campus facilities for badminton, basketball and volleyball. There is a gym, a weights room, a rifle range, a fitness room, squash courts, table tennis and a climbing wall - and the rock faces and potholes of the Pennines are within an hour for those who want to go further afield.

Playing fields are five miles away. And just down the road, Leeds Met has just secured a pounds 1m lottery grant for floodlit synthetic turf pitches and an upgrade of its athletics stadium to international standard.

Sheffield keeps its place in the league tables by pursuing a policy of "sport for all" and its Goodwin sports centre is currently undergoing a pounds 14m refit. There are 60 sports clubs and no one sneers at aerobics, frisbee, step and skipping.

Durham, with its high intake of independent school students, is another highly successful sporting university. The men took third place in the Busa championship last year, although the women did not do so well. Intercollegiate rivalry probably raises standards, with Castle and Hatfield vying for top rugby honours and Castle and Hill Bede rivals in rowing. Sixty acres of playing fields cater for most team sports.

But less fashionable universities are also investing major sums in student sporting facilities. In the Red Mole survey of student views, Lancaster and Bradford came fourth and fifth for students' esteem for their sporting facilities, with Manchester, Central Lancashire, Liverpool and Newcastle not far behind.

Bradford, on a central city site where it began life as a technical college, saw its women's basketball team make the Busa finals last year. It has crammed in a 25-metre swimming-pool and sports centre on campus and has two sets of playing-fields on two sites further afield.

Central Lancashire also has the lottery to thank for an pounds 8m grant which will be spent on an outdoor "multisport" complex, to include an athletics track, pitches, cricket nets, tennis courts and a closed-circuit cycle track. It will not be completed until 2000, and even then only if the work is on time, but some facilities should come on stream in time to tempt enthusiasts amongst the 1998 entry.

Liverpool University also does well in the Busa team sports, but as befits a university in a great maritime city, also caters for water sports and other outdoor activities.

It has water sports facilities at Albert Dock on the regenerated River Mersey, sailing centres at West Kirby and Hoylake, and a base in Snowdonia for climbing, walking, canoeing and field studies.

As relatively small campus universities, Lancaster and York have the advantage of space, and both come out well in Red Mole's survey of student esteem. York has 40 acres of playing fields and uses its own, highly ornamental lake for fishing, canoeing, sailing, rowing and wind-surfing, with additional sailing and rowing on the river Ouse.

Sport plays a big part in life at collegiate Lancaster too, where facilities include a 25-metre pool and a huge range of pitches and courts, and the Lake District and Morecambe Bay are within easy reach for the more adventurous. Cross-Pennine rivalry with York University culminates in the Roses Weekend of competition and fun. And of course Manchester, with its huge student population of four universities which share many facilities, can hardly be beaten for sporting facilities. Manchester, Umist and Manchester Met all come in the top 30 universities in the view of the Red Mole student survey, and Salford is not that far behind.

It is probably fair to say that there is hardly a sport that cannot be accommodated somewhere within the Manchester student community.

Manchester University has 31 acres close to its student village at Fallowfield and a further 19 acres 10 miles to the south at its Wythenshaw sports ground. On the campus itself, close to the city centre, is the McDougal Centre, with swimming pool, indoor games hall, gym, squash and much more. Umist has five more acres of pitches, Salford has its own extensive facilities and Manchester Met has sports facilities spread from Didsbury to its campuses at Crewe and Alsager. One highlight of the year is the Northern Boat Race between Salford and Manchester Uni on May Day.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

    £16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

    £9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn