Beyond the lecture theatre: Exploring Durham’s sports scene


Hi, I’m Isabel a 3rd year student studying an integrated masters in Earth Sciences. For me sport is what has shaped my past 3 years at Durham university – from being captain of Collingwood Women’s football team, competing for Collingwood squash and rounders, to representing the university in touch rugby and Women’s football.

Why embrace sport at university?

Sport for me is one of the key reasons I love being a student at Durham. The opportunity to engage in a variety of sports activities—from playing football eight times a week, to bi-weekly squash and touch rugby, and even trying out lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and mixed netball. Beyond just playing, sport has been where I have found my people; it’s how I’ve made most of my friends outside my course.

Durham university has two levels of sport, offering a vibrant and varied sporting environment no matter your level of expertise. From college sport where you have friendly intercollegiate leagues and cups that run throughout the year, to Durham university(‘DU’) sport where you get to travel the country on a BUCS Wednesday representing Durham against other Universities.

What’s unique about college sport at Durham?

As a student from Collingwood College, the array of sports and teams is staggering. Did you know that Collingwood College Football Club is the largest amateur football club in Europe, with 18 football teams (16 men’s and 2 women’s)? That’s not to mention the 9 netball teams, 5 hockey teams, and teams for squash, cheerleading, dance, and cricket, among others. Whether you’re into football, netball, rowing, or something a bit more niche, there’s likely a team waiting for you. As well as regular weekly fixtures, college teams also participate in Varsity weekends—  fun and friendly competitions against other colleges, and universities such as York and Loughborough, which are always a fun day out with friends, filled with a bit of sport rivalry!

Collingwood squash

Exploring Durham University (DU) sports

In 2023, Durham was named Sports University of the Year by The Times, a testament to our strong sports culture, which has consistently placed us in the top three of the BUCS table since 2012. But it’s not just about the statistics – DU Sports caters from beginners to international-level athletes with professional support from sports psychologists, nutritionists, and regular strength and conditioning sessions at our state-of-the-art sports performance hub. I always say that being part of Team Durham makes me feel like being a professional athlete, a unique experience that complements my academic journey at Durham.

Sports: Not the only way to get involved

While sports have been my go-to for socialising and staying active, Durham offers a range of other ways to engage with campus life, from theatre and music to various societies and leadership roles. My advice to you? Don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone. The experiences that initially seemed daunting have turned out to be the most rewarding parts of my university life.

To summarise my waffle: whether you’re a seasoned athlete or someone looking to try something new, the sports scene at Durham offers something for everyone. It’s more than just games and competitions; it’s about building friendships, developing skills, and making unforgettable memories. So, why not give it a try? You might just find your passion or a new circle of friends waiting to welcome you.

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Hi, I’m Isabel a 3rd year student studying an integrated masters in Earth Sciences, I'm a proud member of Collingwood College.

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