University of Bath    

Newsletter for the International Community

Issue 8 - Autumn 2006


footballMore than just football
Irshad Khan

What you don’t get told before going to University, is that you’re going to learn a lot more than what you’d originally signed up for - it doesn’t stop once you’ve left the lecture hall. And being an international student adds a whole new dimension to it.

One of the experiences I’m going to remember most is being in charge of the international students’ football team for two years. This has given me the chance to meet people coming from such a diverse range of backgrounds, to interact with all of them (both individually and as a group), and to learn so much from them – and so quickly - that even these two hours a week have left a profound impression.

I formed the team in my first year in the aftermath of a disastrous friendly match vs. the University of Bristol’s international students, where we’d nonetheless enjoyed ourselves to the point of deciding to organise a rematch (there were players from the opposing team which I have kept in touch with even after leaving the team in Bath).  That led to establishing a regular training time, and weekly sessions. Sometimes we had too many players to fit on a full-sized pitch, sometimes there only were three of us - resulting in some particularly annoyed emails on my part, as some of the members will recount!  Sometimes we trained with the ladies team (which eventually didn’t take off. Maybe this year?)… Every session was different from the others, but the team’s spirit always made it enjoyable - how could you not appreciate the commitment of players who turned up whether it was sunny, it snowed or it hailed? (It’s England… What did you expect?)

Obviously; things didn’t always run smoothly.  From time to time issues would need to be dealt with, regarding individuals or the whole team, ranging from differences in mentality, commitment, ability, to disputes among team mates, to religious timetabling. As much as I’d like to play with 10 attackers, I don’t believe it’s a wise strategy – but not everybody agrees, and it’s not always easy to make everyone happy. On the other hand, this wasn’t just about winning (not that I mind it in the least…). It was about having a good time, for all, and there were times where it had to be explained to those who felt they weren’t getting as much time on the pitch as they should (unfortunately being the captain also meant I had to give the example, and sit outside or in goal for a good part).

Unfortunately this year I won’t be able to organise the team, as I’m not in Bath. However, it has been passed into the very capable hands (and feet) of Hans Christian Bull ( and Victor Smirnov ( You can contact them or the International Office if you wish to join, or if you have any questions at all.

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