It has been an incredible summer for sport, with the recent Commonwealth Games having taken place in Birmingham; the European Championships held in Munich, in addition to the return of Premier League football and Formula One.
There is, however, still plenty of sporting fun to catch the eye, regardless of whether you’ve just moved to Southampton, or are back for another year, with plenty of must-visit events and lesser-known gems taking place across the city this academic year.
The city of Southampton is home to one ‘main’ football team – Southampton Football Club, otherwise referred to as ‘The Saints’. As such, to use the well-known FIFA Cliché, the whole city can be lifted with a good result.
This season, St Mary’s Stadium plays host to its eleventh consecutive season in the Premier League, a feat achieved thanks to a mix of exciting young talent, and the quality of captain James Ward-Prowse. As a seasoned fan, I cannot promise success, but I can promise nerve-shredding tension and near-permanent trauma.
Following the Lionesses’ heroic Euros victory, women’s football is enjoying its most high-profile period yet – this is no different on the South coast. The female counterpart of the Saints earnt promotion to the championship last season, and are about to enjoy their first season as a fully professional side. They face Birmingham on the 16th October in their first home match of the season.
Games involving the male Saints team take place most Saturdays, and some weeknights, from August until May next year, while the female team play most Sundays from mid-September until April next year.
Be sure to look out for midweek games, which are often heavily discounted for students.
If gritty non-league football is more your thing, or you’re bored of watching England draw 1-1 with the likes of Iran during the international break, Eastleigh Football Club is the place to go. Silverlake stadium, based in Stoneham, is surprisingly geographically closer to the university than St Mary’s, and can easily be reached on the number 2 bus from the centre of Southampton.
Similarly to Saints’ male team, Eastleigh FC’s games will take place on most weekends throughout August until April of next year.
Although the main bulk of the Cricket season takes place during the holidays, there are still opportunities to watch a match or two during term-time.
Hampshire boasts one of the most luxurious stadiums in English Cricket, the Aegeas Bowl, which is situated in West End, on the outskirts of the city. If you’re a red-ball-purist, then the county championship is for you. However, if you’re looking for a quick break from revision, the T20 season is set to begin soon after, with England’s summer 2023 fixtures released later this year.
The ABP races are undoubtedly the highlight of Southampton’s running calendar, which take runners on a tour of the city around the fearsome slopes of the Itchen Bridge; St Mary’s Stadium, and even Highfield Campus. The half marathon is the most popular distance, amongst those running, with there also being the option to race a full marathon; 10k, or 5k.
The event is brilliantly supported by residents, many of whom will offer plentiful supplies of bananas and jelly babies to keep you going, with a percentage of the entry fee going to deserving organisations like Macmillan, and the Southampton Hospital Charity, so you’ll be raising money for great causes just by taking part.
The next opportunity to participate will be April 23rd 2023.
If you cannot bare the thought of waiting until April next year to put on the running shoes, further opportunities can be found in the New Forest with an off-road half marathon taking place on October 15th; at Southampton’s Running Festival on February 19th, or a fast and flat 10k run in Eastleigh on March 19th.
Parkrun is a well-known fitness phenomenon, encompassing a community 5k run on Saturday mornings at 9am, with Southampton holding the second-largest in the UK.
Near to both Portswood and Highfield, the start line of The Common is easy to reach for students, with many regularly tackling the course for a training run, a chat with friends, or to run off the classic Friday night Jesters hangover.
There are also nearby events at Itchen Valley; Eastleigh, and Netley, if you’re interested in some local Parkrun tourism.
If two wheels are more your thing, look out for the Southampton Sporterium taking place in April next year. Both the 60k and 100k sportive routes are on offer for those who fancy a more relaxed, but well-supported ride, with other fast and furious city centre criterium if you’re after something a bit more competitive. Races are equally as thrilling for spectators, thanks to a short course that winds its way around Southampton city centre.
Last, but definitely not least, is the multi-sport extravaganza of Varsity. After thrashing arch-rivals Portsmouth away in 2022, the competition returns home to Southampton’s Wide Lane Sports Ground on March 19th 2023. Despite being fiercely competitive, you don’t need to be the best at your sport to take part, with SUSU encouraging active participation irrespective of your level.