As a student in the United Kingdom, a huge part of my life revolves around football, ahem, soccer.
The British culture is extremely fond of the sport that they call ‘football’, and this can be seen in many aspects of life over here. Whether it is hearing your friends talk about it, seeing how vibrant pubs become on a match day, or taking part in one of the many playing experiences that are available, 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 at Bournemouth University (go AFC Bournemouth!), I’m not that athletic! However, there are plenty of social leagues at university; 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 be too “cheeky” as some university students are ex-football academy products), there are varsity options available at many universities. This format often requires travel to other universities to play, but the format is somewhat different than it is in US colleges as there are less options post-university. 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… First, do your research if you want to go to a Premier League home match as these tickets often sell out, and due to the high demand there are often lottery or loyalty systems to allocate tickets. If tickets for these matches are unavailable, another option is typically to go to home cup matches (e.g. FA Cup, EFL Cup, Europa League, etc.) which are usually cheaper and more available. Away matches for teams can sometimes have 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 which can still have a wonderful atmosphere and quality of play. These tickets are often cheaper and more available so they can be a great opportunity for a day out.