Every year hundreds of freshers and returning second and third-years choose to play competitive football whilst at university.
For these students, some are faced with a choice, that of playing either for their college or trying out for one of the four university teams.
One may be forgiven for thinking that it’s simply a matter of ability – that the more talented students play for the University, whilst those with less skill and a more relaxed attitude play for their college sport teams.
But most of the college first teams clearly contain some very talented players who, for a number of reasons, have chosen to represent their college, but not their university.
I accept that a few of these individuals will indeed have gone to the university trials and having been unsuccessful, play only for the college.
Or there are those that play for the university and the college as and when the rules permit.
But then there are players who made the choice not to go to the university trials, but still play for their college, despite having the ability to play in one of the university teams.
University for many first years can seem like a chance to take on new challenges, join societies and socialise most nights of the week.
The hours taken up by training and extra matches, as well as the pressure of representing the whole University, may be a reason why some students turn towards playing for their college instead.
Fresher Joe Mann, left-midfielder for Goodricke firsts said that this “high level of commitment” was a big factor in his decision not to try out for the University.
He went on to say that it was “the laid back, inclusive atmosphere, whatever the standard,” that made College football great.
This view is supported by Derwent fresher Sam Earle, who’s played for both the University and his respective College this season.
After an impressive debut for the University first team, in which he scored, he decided to concentrate on only playing for his college, for this year at least.
He admitted that the University standard was higher but that “enjoyment was definitely a factor” in making his decision.
He added, “College football is casual, but still taken seriously and is a good standard of football – the best of both worlds.”
Others, however, have enjoyed the challenge of University football and the added intensity and professionalism it brings.
First year Ollie Harrison has made seven appearances for the University team at left-back, whilst also appearing four times for his College.
Harrison’s main attraction was that “it’s a higher level of football. Just the professionalism of it all. Being in the university firsts has a level of prestige not found in College football.”
Also stating that with university football you are genuinely “improving as a player.”
Perhaps then it is more a question of priorities than individual ability and not a question of University versus College.
Maybe the University team should use the college set-up to scout and recruit players who may not have been comfortable or confident enough to try out for the team themselves.
At the end of the day though, this decision rests with the individual players and what they want.
If they’re after a good standard of football, taken seriously but without too much pressure, then College Football certainly fits the bill.
But if one wants to challenge oneself further, at a higher standard, with a more professional emphasis on training and improving as a player then University Football provides it in abundance.