In this Mini-Series on ‘Embedding Belonging in the Classroom’, Fergus MacKenzie, fourth year Mechanical Engineering Student and Vice President Intramural Sport, shares his story on the power intramural sport has in creating a sense of belonging within one’s school community…
NB: Intramural Sport is a sports programme organised by the Sports Union to allow students to represent their school in Mixed Basketball, Men’s 5 and 11-a-side Football, Women’s 5 a-side football, Mixed Hockey, Netball, Men’s Rugby and Mixed Squash in a more relaxed alternative to club sport and is open to anyone. Intramural sport is where taking part is more important than winning.
Coming to university as a fresh faced 18-year-old in September 2016 to start my degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was very keen to get involved with playing sport. My sights were firmly set on continuing Rugby, having played it throughout school. Going along to one of my first lectures there was a student waiting at the front eager to get the lecturer’s attention. That student was Hussam Ali, the recent founder of Engineers Rugby. To this day, I can still remember the excitement I felt upon hearing about the opportunity to join the club and how it was exactly what I was looking for! That Wednesday afternoon I went over to the Meadows for the taster session, and I have been a “Neer” ever since.
Being a very young club, we were not very well prepared as we went into our inaugural year in the Intramural league, especially when we came up against experienced and well-drilled teams in the Medic, History and Agric squads, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing every Wednesday. The best part of playing (and the socials after) was meeting engineers and others from a wide variety of degrees and years. Early on in my time at university, Engineers Rugby allowed me to build a great network of friends and support. Some of the highlights of my time playing for the Engineers happened last year when we beat the touring Swedish U20s 44 – 7 and then later in that year when we beat our rivals, the Medics.
My time with Engineers Rugby has not just been on the pitch. For instance, in my first year, I qualified as a referee to help the team when I was injured. This experience motivated me to run for President at the end of my first year and was elected. Leading the club, I sought to further develop the club’s community feel that I cherished and try to ensure that we had an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. In this past year, I have served as the Vice President Intramural Sport. I took this role on so that I could help develop Intramural not just for rugby but across this great programme. I have committed myself to these positions because I have genuinely benefited from Intramural Sport and I hope to not only ensure that others enjoy similar experiences, but also improve and expand these experiences.
Throughout my time at university, Engineers Rugby and Intramural sport has played a huge part in my student experience. Offering the opportunity to switch off a few times a week by playing rugby, something that is vitally important. My time with Engineers has also pushed me to develop as a person and take on a series of responsibilities. These have helped develop my confidence, teamwork, time management and leadership skills while giving me the opportunity to help improve Intramural: a win-win. Also, being a part of the greater Engineers Rugby community has expanded my network: I always see a friendly face at uni, which is great when having a bad day! Also, being an Engineer Rugby member has made me feel more involved in my school. For example, I get excited when I see an Engineers poster up on the screens in the Eng Inn (café in Hudson Beare building) or when others in the school ask how the team is going. There was even one time when a lecturer sought to get us involved with one of his research projects on reducing concussions. That same Engineers Rugby community has also introduced me to people I would never have met, some of which I believe will be friends for life. As a university student, it can sometimes be incredibly challenging to find a group of like-minded people, but through the Engineers I have found a group of people to play, socialise and seek guidance with, and just people to chat to when in need!
As my university career is rapidly approaching its tail end, I am thankful for all of those who have helped my Intramural journey. From Hussam, to those in the Sports Union like Paul Duffy and Ollie Cruickshank who have worked hard to deliver the Intramural programme, I appreciate all the work they have put in. I also hope that I have helped others to benefit much the same way I have and that I have done all I can to ensure that the Intramural programme continues to go from strength to strength.
#COYE (“Come On You Engineers”)