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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

    £14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

    Guru Careers: Financial Controller

    £45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

    Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager - Events

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager sought for pr...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash