Andy, can you tell us about your role within the University and what you most enjoy about it?
I have been in this role and at the University since July 2017, having previously worked at the University of Warwick for four academic years. The thing I enjoy most about my role is the diversity of activities (we have over 75 different sports and over 100 different activities), and the constant flow of new ideas and innovations from the students and staff involved in sport and physical activity. Oxford’s collegiate system lends itself to a vast and diverse array of activities, often taking place in colleges or within departments, as well as in centralised University facilities and clubs, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. That definitely keeps us busy too – keeping up with the new developments and an ever-increasing demand for activity.
What are the top 3 things staff should know?
1. Our #ActiveAtOxford campaign has been expanded this year to include staff as well as students. #ActiveAtOxford covers everything from active travel and walks in the park to competitive sport and personal training targets, so it is the best place to start if you aren’t sure how to get involved. You can find out more via www.sport.ox.ac.uk/active and there is usually plenty of content on our social media channels too, @OxfordUniSport. Keep an eye out for our content, which aims to encourage everyone within the University to get active, and provides opportunities, advice and guidance to help you to get more active, or stay active, for your own wellbeing, as well as tips on how to support others to do the same.
2. We offer discounted memberships and activity passes at Iffley Road Sports Centre to staff members and their partners, including monthly unlimited access memberships and more flexible visit-based options for more casual users. We have also maintained our ‘Active Anywhere’ option for those staff that aren’t ready to join in with group exercise in person yet. Further information on our memberships and activity passes can be found at www.sport.ox.ac.uk/memberships. Using the University facilities is a great way to get active for the New Year, and our subsidised prices can support you to do so.
3. Some registered University sports clubs are open to staff and community members too, not just students. It can be tricky to find out which clubs are open to staff and community members, so we’ve created this filter on our Sports A to Z, which shows all of the clubs that are available to staff members, and there is a similar filter for community members. Those that aren’t are often unavailable because the club only competes in student competitions, and/or has a maximum membership and is oversubscribed with student members. Some of the clubs that aren’t able to offer club memberships to staff members can facilitate opportunities in college- or department-level activities instead.
Can you tell us a little about the facilities in a few lines?
There are three areas in Oxford where the University has centrally managed sports facilities. The main facility is Iffley Road Sports Centre, where the iconic Sir Roger Bannister Running Track is situated alongside other athletics and sports facilities. Within the sports centre, we also have:
- a 25m 8-lane swimming pool
- a full size astroturf pitch
- an indoor gym
- an outdoor gym
- a dojo
- a studio for group exercise classes
- 2 full-size sports halls
- 6 outdoor grass tennis courts (seasonal)
- 4 outdoor artificial clay tennis courts
- 3 squash courts
- 2 eton fives courts and 2 rugby fives courts
- a football pitch (within the track) and Oxford University Rugby Football Club, which is situated next door
The other two areas are the sports pitches within University Parks and Marston Road Sports Ground, which both have multiple grass pitches for a variety of sports, and are managed by our professional grounds team. Many colleges also have their own facilities, such as gyms, grass pitches and rackets courts. Historically there have been facilities at the University Club on Mansfield Road, but these are currently closed, unfortunately.
Which sports or activities are the most loved or hated?
Participation levels pretty much follow the national popularity in most sports, so activities that are popular across the country are also popular within the University. Football, rugby and cricket in particular, sport-wise, have a lot of opportunities for people to play at all sorts of different levels, with over 1,500 participants in football, 1,000 participants in rugby and 750 participants in cricket each year. On an individual level, swimming and running are both very popular, as is personal fitness, whether that be through a traditional membership with gym, pool or track access or through group exercise classes. There are some historical anomalies too, where an activity is more popular in Oxford than in the rest of the country, proportionally. This is the case with rowing, mostly due to the expansive college competition setup and the fact that many ‘city’ clubs also get involved in some University regattas.
Are there any unusual ones that people might want to try?
There are definitely some more unusual sports and activities for people to try too: octopush (underwater hockey) and ultimate frisbee are good examples. We run group exercise classes in all sorts of activities too. Stages indoor cycling and HIIT are currently the most popular, but some new classes like Y-Bell are also available and we have over 500 virtual classes available as part of our Active Anywhere membership. We also have multiple martial arts clubs, 11 in total, and some popular international sports, such as ice hockey, American football and korfball too – so there really is something to suit everyone.
What if a sport I’m interested in is not on the list?
If you’re interested in a sport that isn’t on this list then get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we might be able to offer some alternatives, support you to access college- or department-level activities, or point you in the direction of a ‘city’ club for the sport, based in the local community. We hope to be able to relaunch and potentially expand some specific staff-focused sports clubs at the University Club and across a wider university base, once the University Club and its sports pitches can re-open.
What if I have a specific need in terms of a sport or activity?
All activities hosted by the sports department are flexible to participant’s individual needs, so if you have a specific need or query then please let us know before booking, and we’ll let you know how we can best accommodate. There are also some benefits that are based on a staff member’s individual situation. It’s always worth checking with your department or college for additional benefits, as often there are groups of people, or services available, to help you get active; those can be slightly different in each department and college.
Where can staff find out about the benefits and how they might get involved?
The best place to find information is on our website – www.sport.ox.ac.uk. You can also find information through our #ActiveAtOxford campaign, which we generally share on social media (@OxfordUniSport) and via internal email channels within the collegiate University too. If you have any queries about opportunities in a specific sport, then please email email@example.com, and for enquiries about memberships, activity passes and access to facilities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a staff or student member of Oxford University Sport, you can gain access to over 100 University gyms across the UK through UNIversal Gym Membership.