When I first arrived at university two years ago, my footballing ability was shamefully rusty. I hadn’t played since I was about 13 or 14 but was keen to start playing again. At York, I found an arena to peddle what little talent I had without feeling embarrassed: College Football (specifically 3rds). At universities which do not have a collegiate system (the vast majority of them) the only place where students can get competitively involved in sports is by playing for their university against others. This can be an intimidating prospect if you haven’t played football for a few years or don’t rate yourself. Here at York, regardless of your ability, there is a tier for you. College football is made up of three leagues that get progressively more competitive, from the 3rds through to 1sts. Beyond college football there are the university teams where the highest standard of football is played.
I found an arena to peddle what little talent I had
The 3rds level of football is what I am best acquainted with and I’d urge anyone who is a little unsure of themselves to go to their college’s try-outs in the first few weeks. Whilst it is taken a little less seriously than say 1sts or 2nds, it is by no means leisurely. The matches are, at times, battled out with passionate commitment and the four best 3rds teams make it through to the college cup in the final term. One of the most important things about 3rds football is the way commitment is rewarded by your college. If you can put the effort in to go to the training sessions and work hard on the pitch, there is always the chance that you will be promoted to the 2nds or 1sts. The 3rds teams act as feeders into the 2nds as do the 2nds into the 1sts. Many of the guys who now play for their 1sts teams began as 3rds players.
Football is perhaps a bad example due to its popularity; there aren’t as many tiers in other sports, but the collegiate system works the same for them all. If you don’t feel up to playing university level rugby then play for your college. If you are out of practice with a hockey stick go to your college’s try outs. You’ll find yourself more welcome than you’d previously imagined and probably getting some time on a pitch. To put the message as simply as it can be: get involved. Whether it be football, squash or volleyball – don’t feel intimated, there’s a level for you to ply your trade at.