Sport writer Clara Morate finds out about UoB Gymnastics, the first Sports Club of the Fortnight this year – chosen by the Guild Sports Officer

Written by CMorate
Final year Classics undergrad at UoB. Currently obsessed with writing and dont think I can't stop any time soon. Hopefully I can reign it back for my dissertation. Part of gymnastics, Ballads and Windsurfing at UoB, not to forget the wonderful Green Party, BACAS and Writer's Bloc funnily enough. The profile photo, I know its weird I took it in Costa Rica and I have good memories attached to it, that's it really. Also cant be bothered to change it currently.
Images by Sophie Peck

There is no doubt that assuming the responsibility and leadership of a sports team through its committee is an immense undertaking even prior to a global pandemic. However, the current situation has demanded much more, as clubs deal with new, unprecedented challenges. These brave volunteers certainly signed up for more than what they expected, through no fault of anyone, as is the way with the constant unpredictability of the rules and regulations.

Archie Belfield, club captain of University of Birmingham (UoB) Gymnastics, told Redbrick about the unfortunate likeliness of disruptions as ‘training during a global pandemic was inevitably going to pose a challenge.’ The committee, made up of eight enthusiastic and talented individuals from a range of years, degrees, and gymnastic abilities, have had to ‘spend substantially more time trying to think differently and adapt to the ever-changing guidelines,’ revealed Belfield. These conundrums and increased responsibilities have not hampered their abilities to run their sports club, and they have adapted as well as they can.

The committee has been able to maintain a strong sense of routine and stability for their members

Regardless of the setbacks, the committee has been able to maintain a strong sense of routine and stability for their members with regular socials and training sessions, all online of course. Their creativity is evidenced in the social secretary Cherry Halfyard’s online zoom events, including their fortnightly zoom socials and weekly online conditioning sessions, with both continuing to have a great turnout from both the committee and team members.

UoB Gymnastics club is the place to be for those looking to set and maintain challenges and goals for themselves. Belfield, when asked about what he loved about gymnastics, said ‘regardless of when you start gymnastics, you will soon appreciate the time and consistency of training required to improve and achieve certain skills. The feeling of achieving a skill after weeks, months and sometimes years of training is like no other.’ Indeed the members of UoB gymnastics do see exponential progress throughout the year.

UoB gymnastics offers a flexible program of weekly training

Depending on the membership purchased, UoB gymnastics offers a flexible program of weekly training. Those with full memberships are able to train twice a week and attend conditioning, although the squad does attend an extra training session each week. A social membership enables you to participate in a training session once a week and the conditioning class. Of course, the clubs’ in-person training sessions have been unable to run since 14th October due to coronavirus restrictions, and the imminent national lockdown means they will have to wait a while to return.

The coaches include both students and non-students with background experience in gymnastics. This mixture of coaches and styles is perfect for team members to enjoy safe, challenging sessions that boost confidence. The club’s main facilities, COVID-permitting of course, include the Gillet centre with gymnastics apparatus and flooring and the use of the main gym for morning conditioning sessions.

UoB gymnastics has so far adapted with grace and efficiency to the strangeness that is 2020, particularly for indoor sports. It is no doubt they will continue to do so with new and returning members from behind a screen or, eventually, in real training sessions.

A Word from the Sports Officer

Firstly I’d like to mention how difficult it was selecting a club of the fortnight, as so many, if not all, have shown incredible adaptability and positivity during the pandemic. This being said, Gymnastics have really ‘vaulted’ themselves forward by maintaining and even furthering the community feeling of the club, despite the setbacks they faced. They have also worked incredibly hard to integrate the incoming members, and as such, I believe they deserve the recognition!

– Rob Hegarty

To find out more about UoB Gymnastics, click here or head over to their Facebook group.

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