By Jordana Seal, Third Year, English and Theatre Studies
I sat down with the University of Bristol’s cricket club captain Rowley Wing, to understand how the club has curated a sports team focused on comradery, mental wellbeing, and inclusivity.
As all third-year students know, pursuing sports during lockdown was a challenge. However, it seems that Rowley’s positive attitude meant he saw this as an opportunity, joining the university’s cricket club and playing what he has coined ‘corridor cricket’ with his then-flatmate and current teammate, Tom.
This unconventional, and unapproved by campus security, sport is one of the reasons why Rowley and Tom decided to run for and become social secretaries of the club together in their second year of university.
Rowley reflects upon his days as social sec fondly telling me that it ‘was a great way to get to know members of the club better, and in doing so resulted in me running for club captain as well. I have loved having a leadership role - getting to meet some cool guys who share my love of cricket.’
Rowley’s passion for the club is clear. However, it is his leadership style that must be commended. He has spent his time as captain ensuring that the environment across cricket training and socials is comfortable and inclusive.
One of the ways Rowley has achieved this is by utilising social media to promote their brand, as well as having flexible training times that they try to fit around club member’s schedule as the season begins and progresses.
The cricket team is a unique club because they have training and socials throughout the academic year despite their season beginning in the summer. This aspect of the club allows the team to get to know each other from a social perspective while also ensuring that they’re a cohesive team before they even play a match.
Rowley was also keen to discuss and promote the Bristol women’s cricket team saying: ‘Cricket is a quickly growing sport on the women’s side and they are trying to start a development team. There has been an increased interest this year and it will only grow as the sport gets bigger. Hopefully, my successors will be able to put more teams out into BUCS competition.’
Another element of Bristol’s cricket society that sets it apart from other clubs is the team’s commitment to supporting their teammates and having an awareness of each other’s mental wellbeing. Each year the club participates in a workshop run by Opening Up Cricket who focus on mental wellbeing and suicide prevention through sport.
We also discussed the controversial price of the club membership, and it was revealed that there is a tiered style membership depending on how committed members are to the team and the amount of time they spend training.
Rowley justified the costs saying, ‘there is reasoning – we’re still reeling from COVID losses. On top of that, it’s not a cheap sport to run, facility costs and travel is incredibly expensive, as well as umpires, pitch fees, balls and equipment. Me and my treasurer spend a lot of time deliberating over it and that’s why we have a split membership. The more expensive one is for those who are so committed and the cheaper option is for people starting and getting into it’
Overall, the team are excited for the impending pre-season matches, Rowley was particularly excited to play Exeter saying, ‘they are the best cricket university in our region, it’s a challenge and also, we are playing them at their ground which means we get to have some fun journeys’.
Even Rowley’s fixation on the journey rather than the score demonstrates the inclusive and fun aspect that he has curated in the club, but don’t worry that doesn’t mean he’s not determined to lead the team to victory this season.