One of the great things about being a student in the UK is living in the home of football, ahem, soccer.
British culture is extremely fond of the sport which they call ‘football’, and this is reflected in many aspects of life over here. Whether it’s chatting with your friends, the vibrant pubs on a match day, or taking part in a local club match, football is somewhat inseparable to modern British life.
For those who play football or are interested in trying it out, there are many options available to you. Even though I am a student earning a Bachelor’s in Sports Management, I’m not that athletic! However, there are plenty of “social” sports leagues at universities; whether you’re a beginner or just don’t have the time to commit to a varsity level sport (a bit like intramural leagues at US colleges). I participate in one of these leagues and would say that they are the perfect opportunity to keep fit, have fun and make new friends for a very small cost (in my case, the term fees were only around $20).
For those who are confident in their playing skills (although don’t judge your level before try outs - some university students are ex-football academy products), there are varsity options available at many universities. This format often requires travel to other universities for matches, which is a great opportunity to see other university campuses. If you’re thinking of pursuing your football career after university, it’s not quite like college sports in the US… Professional football in the UK focuses mostly on academies and the player market (e.g. loans, trades, etc.) rather than university players. If you’re interested in trying out for a professional team after university, you should probably join a non-league (i.e. semi-professional) club whilst studying at university. This way, you can likely get paid at the same time as earning a degree and pursuing your athletic dreams!
If you want to spectate at professional matches, then the UK is your perfect place!
If you’re looking to get tickets to a game in the UK, I have some tips… Firstly, if you want to watch a Premier League home match, then do your research! These tickets often sell out, and due to their high demand, there are often lottery or loyalty systems to allocate tickets. If tickets for these matches are unavailable, another option is to go to home cup matches (e.g. FA Cup, EFL Cup, Europa League, etc.) which are usually cheaper and more available. Team away matches sometimes offer free seats as well (depending on the size of the club and stadium). This can be a fun travel opportunity in addition to the main attraction. Finally, you can go to professional matches in the English second, third and fourth tiers or the Scottish second or third tiers. These matches have wonderful atmospheres and a great quality of play. These tickets are often cheaper and more available so they can be a great opportunity for a day out.