What if I want to play competitively?

Having played football for various teams from very young age, I can relate to the desire to play in a more structured, competitive environment. Fortunately, Manchester offers such opportunities in abundance, with a number of options available for those wishing to compete in a league format. In previous posts, I have alluded to the smaller-sided leagues available in conjunction with http://www.studentsoccer.co.uk. Through this website you as an individual, or if you’re lucky enough to have the backing of a full squad, can register with a team and compete against other teams of students all over Manchester. The website is regularly updated with fixtures, results and news concerning openings for tournaments. From personal experience, I have found it a fantastic tool for scoping out opposition, preparing for fixtures generally having a good nosey at what’s happening in the league around us. Overall, I believe it adds and extra edge of competitiveness that otherwise wouldn’t be present.

Another option for students wanting to play competitively is the Campus League, run by but not exclusively for MMU students. This allows for an entirely different experiences to those offered by Platt Lane, the Armitage Centre and The Ardwick Centre, as it is a more true form of football, 11-a-side, played on grass in the daytime, perfect for the purists out there. I spoke to Chris Berrovoets, University Football Activator for MMU, who runs the league, as he explains his role within the league better than I possibly could (again, I apologise for the poor video quality);

Chris is a second year student at MMU, who, like myself, has competed in the Campus League. It is run by students, for students, and a £1 a pop is well worth the admission fee considering you get a full 90-minute game at a competitive level in the notoriously wonderful Manchester sun(?). The Campus League is one of the very few student leagues within the area which is played on grass, due to the time constraints of playing within the daytime without floodlights. 2PM starts on a Wednesday afternoons at Hough End park provide the perfect opportunity to get involved, as it is within reasonable distance of both the major Manchester universities and avoids clashing with most university timetables.





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Five-a-side football

As university students, we are often pressed for time. Balancing university timetables, assignments, revision, work and social time can be tough at the best of times. All of these things are time-consuming but necessary, so the squeeze when making a conscious effort to keep fit and active can often be a tight one. Something which can also make this difficult, which is especially pertinent for those who choose to live away from home for university, is cost. Gym memberships can be expensive, likewise committing yourself to a sport on a regular basis. This is where five-a-side football excels, especially in Manchester with it’s plethora of facilities on offer. In an area so heavily inundated with students, five-a-side football offers an alternative to traditional full-sided games. With games typically lasting around 40 minutes as opposed to the usual 90, students can viably fit it within their schedule with minimal disruption. Many of these organisations are subsidised by MMU and The University of Manchester, which in turn leads to cheaper, more affordable football for students, who’re often living on a budget.

There are a number of venues within the Fallowfield area that facilitate this format, and I took it upon myself to visit some in order to get a better idea of what they offer. I’ll start with the Armitage centre, as it’s geographically closest to my home and one of the facilities that I use most frequently.


The Armitage Centre

The Armitage Centre is placed fairly central in Fallowfield on Moseley Road, and is very easy to access as a result. While ideal for five-a-side, it really serves numerous purposes as it features both full-sizethumbnail_image3d pitches as well as the floodlit, smaller-sided surfaces (see right). The complex is run by the University of Manchester, and as a result the rates offered are fantastic. Students can play for as little as £3 each, and spaces are usually always readily available at short notice. The enclosed nature of the pitches make for action-packed games as the ball rarely goes out of play, making for an excellent workout in the 36 minute games that take place. The pitches at The Armitage Centre encourage short, sharp passing and help to develop ball control skills due to the smaller pitches, which makes it an excellent option for players looking to improve their overall game. What strikes me most about the Armitage Centre is the relaxed nature of the whole operation, the organisers are friendly and accommodating, the referees are good humoured and the matches are nearly always played in good spirit. The is durable in that it offers one-off matches to individuals as well as a structured league in conjunction with Student Soccer, but more about that later. Overall, The Armitage Centre provides a fun, inexpensive experience in an ideal location for both MMU and UOM students.


Gordon Porter observes a match at The Armitage Centre, trying his hardest to “act natural”.


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Places to play in Manchester

From a young age, I’ve always loved football. Whether it be watching world-class players on the television or playing for my local team at ungodly hours on a Sunday morning on a frozen pitch, it was all I ever wanted to do. I remember rushing home from school, changing into my latest replica Wolves kit and immediately leaving to squeeze in as many hours playing with my friends as possible. Come rain or shine, the conditions didn’t matter one bit (much to the dismay of my poor mother, who would be tasked with removing the filth from said replica kit at least four days a week). We would play until we could physically no longer see the ball, or until our parents demanded we came back inside for school the following morning, whichever came first.

Coming from a rough council estate in Wolverhampton, slugging it out in a muddy field day-in, day-out with two jumpers acting as goalposts seemed the most normal thing in the world, and to this day those memories still prove to be some of the fondest I possess. With that said, the lack of facilities available for young lads such as my younger self never occurred to me until fairly recently.

Upon moving to Manchester, the sheer volume of facilities on offer was astounding to me, even at the age of 22. The state-of-the-art establishments geared towards young footballers and students within the area shows a clear effort to accommodate to a collective love for the game, affording opportunities that weren’t as readily available when I was growing up as a child. One look at the following map gives a clear indication of the amount of locations in which football can be played in and around the centre of Manchester;


Scroll one hundred yards north-west, and you find Platt Lane Sports Complex, The Armitage Centre and Platt Playing Fields. Drag the map fifty yards in the opposite direction, and you find Hough End playing fields. Each one of these places offer differing formats of football on differing days to accommodate different individuals. They also offer student-specific formats at discounted rates, but we’ll divulge further into each later on.  I was taken aback by the manner in which no expense had been spared, and immediately wanted to get involved.

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How journalists use Instagram

On the surface, social media platforms serve as fun, convenient ways to interact with friends and family, while allowing us to gain an insight into the lives of celebrities or other individuals we would not normally interact with. A prime example of a platform that allows this extended access is Instagram. Not only can a user gain access to friends and families’ profiles, but also those of high-profile individuals, companies or brands who garner a higher level of public interest. If the correct methods are used, Instagram can be used to create interest in a service or product, and it is for this reason that Instagram can be very useful for journalists. This is a statement echoed by to http://www.poytner.com, who outline the opportunity for enticing photographs to be posted. If an account has an appealing picture related to a story, Instagram is the ideal platform on which to post it. This in turn increases the likelihood of the consumer clicking the corresponding link, reading the article and returning in future. Poytner also opine; “Instagram is a natural fit for NowThis, a video news network targeted towards people who consume news via mobile devices and social networks. NowThis’ feed is full of short videos with attention-grabbing text”. As a whole, Instagram provides a modernisation of the manner in which interest can be garnered and subsequently directed towards an article or website.

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Returning to MMU

My first actual year of university didn’t go exactly as I’d envisioned, having picked a course in haste simply because I wanted to attend university. Having undertaken a Primary Education degree, I soon realised that it was not the course, or potential career, that I could see myself wholeheartedly dedicating myself to. For this reason, the majority of my academic work was geared towards obtaining the grades I needed to trthumbnail_image1ansfer onto a more applicable course, rather than through a genuine passion for the content I was exploring. After deciding on English and Multimedia Journalism, I see a route which genuinely excites me, and a potential career I am extremely passionate about. Having secured a part-time job on the side to supplement my time spent in Manchester, I feel all the components are in place for me to be successful throughout the next three years.

The contrast in how I feel approaching this academic year compared to the last is astronomical, and I cannot wait to get started.

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