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With Varsity fast approaching, now seems a good time to reflect on the successes of last year’s series and how it helped people, primarily through the charity 1625 Independent People (1625ip).

In Epigram issue 309, there was an article on the money raised by Varsity; and how 1625ip used it to, among other things, enter their football team into a local league.

The charity do vital work with young people who are dealing with difficult circumstances, helping them to get back on their feet with housing and education, but a key part of this confidence building is through sport.

Everyone can participate in sport, regardless of the challenges they are facing in other aspects of life, making it an escape for many young people.

Varsity has massively helped this local charity to continue to help some of the most vulnerable people in the city to succeed despite the problems life has thrown at them

This has been especially important for the 1625ip football team, who got involved with the Varsity action when they watched the football last year. This impacted their own game and since then, they have competed in a Monday night league, performing well and finishing fourth.

Scott Harvey captains the team and shared his thoughts on the progress his side has made and the importance of Varsity in their journey.

How has the money and experience of Varsity helped?

SH: ‘It has helped a lot as we would not be able to play on Mondays and Fridays without the funding. It has inspired people to come and play as we are now a proper team with a proper kit, so we are doing it seriously. It is not just like a kickabout with your mates.’

How do you see the initiative moving forward from here?

SH: ‘I only see it going upwards, I am currently organising a presentation for the lads to recognise their effort, and we are talking about getting trained by a coach regularly.

What have you learned from the partnership with Varsity and UoB?

SH: ‘The partnership with the University helped us as we were able to come and watch the university futsal team, which we all learned a lot from. Watching the Varsity football helped us to pick up on styles and tactics we had not seen before, which we could use in our games and it inspired us.’

With the right support, sport has the power to turn people’s lives around. The team spirit creates a real sense of belonging, not just within your own team, but also in the wider community. Personal lives become irrelevant as soon as you step out onto that pitch, court or pool and it is this unity which makes sport so valuable for uniting us all.’

Hugh Kirby, a Bristol student, has dedicated much of his time to volunteering at 1625ip and I asked him what impact he thought Varsity had made on the charity: ‘Varsity has massively helped this local charity to continue to help some of the most vulnerable people in the city to succeed despite the problems life has thrown at them.

This has not just been as a result of the money raised, but also from the awareness and the fact that the young people at the charity feel more affiliated with the university and have positive role models of a similar age to aspire to.’

Our shiny new #Varsityseries banners going up along Tyndall Avenue #WeAreBristol #embracetherivalry #notlongnow

A post shared by University of Bristol Sport (@bristolunisport) on

Varsity is a brilliant series and of course we all love the rivalry, but it is important not to lose sight of the real positive impacts it can have on the wider community in Bristol.

It is more than a fundraiser, it is a chance to invite all of Bristol into the world of university sport and get people involved from all walks of life.

Here is to another brilliant series! If you would like to get involved with some volunteering, head over to: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sport/


Get involved with Varsity using the hashtag #WeAreBristol

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