Colleges Week: Brilliant work in sport and physical activity

As part of Colleges Week, AoC Sport’s Managing Director Marcus Kingwell has written a blog to highlight the importance of colleges for sport and physical activity.

The focus of Colleges Week is to call on government for better investment in colleges and fair pay for college staff. But it is also a great opportunity to highlight the brilliant work that goes on in colleges and the brilliant staff that make it all possible.

Sport and physical activity is part of that brilliant work: colleges choose to do sport and physical activity and they invest significant amounts of their own time and money to make it happen. Some might argue that sport and physical activity is a ‘nice-to-do’ – enjoyable and perhaps even worthy but not really the core business of colleges. But it is more relevant and important than ever, given some of the big challenges facing young people today:

  • Mental health: The average college has 185 students with disclosed mental health conditions (see AoC Sport’s mental health report)
  • Loneliness: The results of the BBC’s recent experiment on loneliness revealed that, among all age groups, levels of loneliness were highest among 16-24 year olds
  • Physical wellbeing: The latest figures on childhood obesity show that severe obesity among children aged 10 to 11 years has increased by more than a third in just over a decade. These children will be starting college in five years’ time.

The benefits that sport and physical activity can bring to mental health and physical wellbeing are obvious but it’s worth digging into the detail. AoC Sport’s mental health report shows that students who participated in physical activity made friends, felt less isolated and had increased energy.

Students who are active or sporty tend to have high attendance rates, get better results and get better jobs.  Plus, students who volunteer for leadership roles in sport and physical activity gain confidence and are motivated to do more volunteering.

If you want to see how colleges are doing brilliant, beneficial work outside of the classroom, take a look at what is going on in sport and physical activity during Colleges Week:

  • On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday over 100 college girls are being trained to become This Girl Can Ambassadors, with the objective of raising participation among female students in their college. Girls who took part last year reported increased confidence, self-esteem and self-motivation, as well as developing skills in leadership, time management, communication, teamwork and planning. The programme is wholly funded by Sport England.
  • On Tuesday, over 150 student volunteers will be trained at Wembley Stadium to become Football Activators as part of the Grassroots Football Hubs programme. Their task is to drive up football playing and volunteering opportunities for male and female students in their colleges. The programme is entirely funded by The FA and Sport England.
  • On Wednesday, hundreds of college cup games and regional tournaments will be taking place around the country.  None of these matches would happen without a huge commitment from the brilliant college staff who have planned, organised, trained and transported their teams. By playing in their fixtures, students have demonstrated their commitment, focus, ambition, mental resilience and physical ability.

It might be Colleges Week but in many ways it’s a regular week. Colleges and their staff are continuing to do brilliant work and deliver amazing outcomes.

To find out more about Colleges Week and how you can support the campaign, visit


Related Articles:

AoC Sport project finds being active can improve student mental wellbeing AoC Sport Leadership Academy launched