With students gradually coming back to London and King’s over the course of September, many, including myself, are wondering whether another casualty of the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will be the sporting life of students. It was certainly the facet of my time at university which dominated my first-year thinking, for better or for worse.
Thankfully, the situation is not as bad as feared when BUCS announced that there would be no competitive leagues until January. Furthermore, for the more casual active people at King’s, King’s Sport, their gyms and the BeActive programme all aim to be in more or less full swing by the end of September. Hopefully, this provides a comprehensive outlook on the state of sport at King’s for the rest of 2020. Roar will provide more updates as they come in.
Sports Fixtures, Sports Nights and King’s Sport
Certain fixtures will be going ahead before Christmas, despite the announcement from BUCS that competitive leagues wouldn’t start until January. BUCS have said they are looking to deliver some in-person events towards the end of first term, which includes the possibility of friendly leagues in various sports such as football and rugby (though surely a friendly league wouldn’t be particularly friendly). They have also looking at running friendly LUSL leagues for weekend fixtures. Some BUCS clubs that also compete in local leagues, although this is very rare if non-existent for KCL, will also look to start soon as well. Elsewhere, non-BUCS clubs are delivering activity to the normal academic time-frame – 28/09-16/12 and 11/01-31/03. Their offer will consist of in person sessions where possible.
King’s Sport will facilitate as many bookings as possible to arrange inter-university friendlies and will also look at Intra-Mural leagues to have sport with-in a KCL bubble, to add more intra-university fixtures. Despite the absence of competitive fixtures until January in many instances, the HOP sports ground will be open for training bookings, with the New Malden sports ground already open. Teams shouldn’t need to unofficial friendlies in a local park. In addition, for KCL and GKT Football and Lacrosse teams, Wednesday and Saturday BUCS/LUSL fixtures should still be secure at The Griffin in Dulwich (Griff), as far as people high up are aware, such as fixture coordinator Alex Cole, KCL have still not sold the facility and is still under their ownership for the upcoming year.
As for Sports Nights on Wednesdays at The Vault and Guy’s Bar, Guy’s Bar have announced that a loyalty system will be in place to allocate teams to seating to comply with social distancing restrictions. This will work on purchasing a yearlong ticket, for the price of £10, and the number of memberships sold per club will correlate with the amount of seating they are given. It will be down to the club who attends each week with the number of tables allocated. The Vault are yet to make an announcement on the matter, but it is likely they’ll adopt a similar system. The Vault re-opens on the 14th September in its usual capacity, with social distancing measures.
Regarding wider King’s Sport issues, campus and residence gyms are gradually re-opening. As of the 17th of August, Strand Gym has re-opened, with other gyms planned to re-open on the 14th September in line with the academic year. In August, they will run reduced opening hours from 08:00 – 20:00 on weekdays and closed at weekends. They expect to extend these opening times back to 07:00 – 22:00 in September but will review these based on gym usage throughout Term 1. The number of people in the gym at any given time will comply with social distancing measures. Members will be required to book their slot, any time from 3 days in advance, for sessions of 45 minutes so that they can sanitise the surfaces. For much more detail, and for bookings, visit https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sport/gyms/member-safety.
BeActive are endeavouring to keep the 2020/21 as similar to last year (pre Covid) as possible. They have learnt from their popular free online timetable over the summer that peoples exercise habits have changed during Covid, and in addition to the general BeActive programme, Kings move (rewards app), performance sport and active wellness scheme they will also be adding an extensive online timetable that is available to the whole King’s community for free this year. So, hopefully there is something for everyone regardless of their exercise preferences or confidence around Covid restrictions.
Ballet Barre, Zumba and Pilates, their most popular gym class timetables, will likely be full again for the upcoming year. The BeActive programme with recreational sports such as netball and badminton will also likely stay extremely popular. The Yoga and Pilates will be done both in person and online, both with strong attendances. Though The Great King’s Run is yet to be confirmed, the addition of the virtual run this year had over 700 participants, showing both its adaptability and popularity. More of the same is expected this year.
Crucially, given that all students in halls of residence have a BeActive membership included, they will be ensuring those living in halls have great access to a range of activities both within their halls, across London and online. For the first part of term 1, to ensure there are great sessions available that are Covid compliant we will be utilising some of the great outdoor spaces at both halls of residences and campus courtyards, such as those at Stamford and Great Dover Street.
Utmost thanks to Zak Evans from King’s Sport, Ryan Hunt of BeActive, and fixture coordinator Alex Cole for their input, without whom this piece would not have been possible.