Club Focus: UCD BasketballWhether you’re looking for some exercise or trying to be the next Kevin Durant, Conall Cahill chats to members of the UCD Men’s Basketball Club about life on and off the court.[br]IF enthusiasm and passion are good barometers, then it seems safe to say that the UCD Men’s Basketball Club is in safe hands under the stewardship of this year’s captain Mark Woulfe. In fact, it’s in progressive hands. It’s an exciting time for men’s basketball in UCD, whether you are a novice, just looking to improve your fitness, or someone wanting to seriously test their abilities at a high level.Membership of the club has trebled this year with around sixty members now on the books, ranging from those playing in the college league team (which compete at a high level against other universities) to players who just take part in the ‘social leagues’ (where club members meet up and play out fun five-a-side matches for an hour, swapping substitutes in and out).There is also a freshers’ team that trains on a weekly basis with the college league team and who, at the time of writing, were readying themselves for a weekend of competition against other universities.The ‘social leagues’ occur on Tuesdays from 7pm-8pm (at a slightly higher standard) and Thursdays from 4pm-5pm (which are more suited to beginners). These are for anyone who shows up and just wants to play ball - as some of the members are known to say, “ball is life.” There are also those who participate in the newly-formed (mixed gender) wheelchair basketball sessions. The wheelchair team, set up on the recommendation of Aoibhs Magills, train every Wednesday morning in Hall B from 11am-1pm and consist of both able-bodied and disabled athletes. The team is currently acquiring more sports wheelchairs to accommodate their growing membership and, as Woulfe puts it, “you could nearly write a whole article on just their story!” The wheelchair team don’t currently compete but Woulfe hopes to get competition started in the near future. If you are to judge from the responses of Igor Markiewicz (freshers' player) and Daniel Fakoyede (second year player with the college league team), the UCD Men’s Basketball Club strikes a perfect balance between the two things a sports club should be: a social outlet away from lecture halls, and a way to improve fitness and stay physically fit and healthy while at college.
“You can have a first year playing with a guy who’s been there four years or something like that. Everyone’s equal on the team.”Markiewicz, a physiotherapy student, says it is a “very cool experience” getting to train with the senior team as someone who is only in his first year with the club. He outlines that there is no hierarchy leaning in favour of older members (which can be a problem in some college clubs and societies): “You can have a first year playing with a guy who’s been there four years or something like that. Everyone’s equal on the team. Everyone has the same opportunity.”Fakoyede, who is into his second year of an electronic engineering degree, agrees. “The respect is there for everyone of all ages, everyone’s on the same level basically. There’s no age barriers. Everyone can have the same banter. And when it’s time to get serious, everyone knows what to do.” Markiewicz says that having the club as a social outlet helped him adjust to university life when he was “as lost as every other first year around.” Similarly, Fakoyede states that in his first year he made “a lot of friends” in the club – friends that remain part of his social circle today.
“There’s also those who participate in the newly-formed (mixed gender) wheelchair basketball sessions.” He values the opportunity the club has given him not just as “a good avenue to make new friends” but also because of how he has been able “to make friends outside of (his) course” due to his participation in the club. Branching out to make friends away from those you see in a lecture hall – a very healthy aspect of life in college clubs and societies.Markiewicz enjoys the “strict” training at the more serious level of the club and personally relishes the ‘freshers vs senior team’ games that break out at weekly training sessions - these help players “develop together as a team” and, most importantly, are “always a bit of craic”. As he says himself, “you’ve got to enjoy what you do.” Woulfe recommends anyone wishing to join the club to go along to one of the ‘social league’ sessions in UCD Sports Hall B and find him (“I’m usually the one shouting orders at everyone!”). Failing this, you can join the club’s Facebook group (entitled ‘UCD Men’s Basketball’), message Mark on Facebook (‘Mark Woulfe’) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.The UCD Basketball Clubs, both men's and women’s, are having a social night in the ‘Blue Room’ in the UCD Student Centre on Thursday 1st December, with beer pong, pizza, an NBA match on the TV and copious amounts of craic. Why not go along and meet a new and interesting bunch of people?