By Eleonora Catenaro, BA Social Anthropology and Arabic
The density and crowdedness under the tent of the Freshers’ Fayre marquee reflected the excitement of all sports and societies’ committees during what feels like the first actual post-COVID year. If you were brave enough to reach the end of the maze without getting lost among the wide array of societies at SOAS, you must have found yourself in front of the tables of numerous sports teams behind which many athletes were enthusiastically ready to sign up as many people as possible. Some might have attempted to draw you in with Snickers and Mars bars, others with bananas and apples, or even by directly throwing a ball at your face.
Many take this for granted, but the amount of work behind keeping a sports team alive and running is far from little. To begin with, the patience of the sports teams’ committee members should be prized, as it is an essential element when chasing after the SU for not responding to emails, not booking pitches for games, and not registering teams for championships. Omar Jahangir Khan, president of the SOAS Men’s Football Team, expressed his frustration as his team was among the SOAS sports teams that were incorrectly registered in the leagues for London universities. Other teams incorrectly registered were SOAS Men’s and Women’s Rugby, Women’s Football, and Cricket. This led to their relegation to the lowest division—which is frustrating considering how well the SOAS Men’s Football Team performed last year. Despite what Khan called a “rough start of the year”, he and the other committee members are still very excited to make this year as enjoyable as possible for everyone who joined the team.
“Sports at SOAS will ‘make a resurgence’ this year”
The new SU Sports Officer in charge this year is making all the committees very hopeful that this year, the running of sports and societies will be smoother than it was in the past. Mukund Adamson, SOAS Men’s Rugby’s Social Secretary, believes that sports at SOAS will “make a resurgence” this year given that they are more accessible with no COVID-related restrictions.
Despite the support from the SU, SOAS Volleyball had a slightly frustrating start to the year too. Due to an administrative problem at the school where they train, training only began two weeks after the agreed-upon date. Marco Iazzetta, the team’s Secretary, shared some of his concerns when he mentioned the games they’ll have this month and the limited time they have to prepare for them. However, he is very excited about the talented new athletes that have joined the team. Iazzetta also expressed his appreciation towards the SU because they are now able to offer three difficulty levels—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—, allowing everyone to come and play to the intensity they desire.
Competitions will start soon for both SOAS Volleyball and Football Teams; as for the SOAS Table Tennis Society, they began competing in the second week of October. They have had a terrific start to the year, beating the Queen Mary Table Tennis Society 15-2. The team was established in 2020 however for COVID reasons, it was only able to set off this year, and what a start it has been. They are also looking to set up a women’s table tennis team, so stay tuned if you’re interested!
Another society which only recently got off the ground is the SOAS Running Society, whose central focus as of now is not necessarily competition. The president, Oscar Stapleton, shares that the society aims to “provide a space for de-stressing and making friends”. The society organizes social runs that start from SOAS if anyone is interested. However, they’re still looking to participate in competitions around London, including cross-country races that will take place in the month of October and beyond. Stapleton is looking forward to seeing this freshly started society grow within the next year given the positive outcome so far.
Hopefully, this frustrating start to the year will be forgotten later when, with the new SU team already in place, all will run more smoothly. We wish both old and new teams the best of luck in all future competitions!
Photo Caption: Our SOAS Runners on Primrose Hill (credit: Oscar Stapleton).