18 May 2022

Spotlight on... UEA Derby Day

Sam AttardLast Wednesday (20 April) saw the long-awaited return of UEA’s biggest sporting event of the year - Derby Day. After two years where it was unable to take place due to COVID-19, UEA and the Essex Blades were able to resume their sporting rivalry once more, in the 20th edition of Derby Day. 

This year’s event was hosted by Essex University, with over 40 UEA teams competing and battling it out to be crowned 2022 Derby Day champions. And it was UEA who were victorious (obviously!), making it an 8th successive win! 

One of the winning teams was the men’s hockey club, who secured a 6-0 win. We sat down with president of the club and third year NBS student, Sam Attard, to find out how it felt to finally experience Derby Day, and why he encourages all students to get involved in sports during their time at university.

Being in hockey has without a doubt made my university experience. Getting out three or four times a week to do some exercise is so important mentally and physically whatever sport it is, and I would encourage anyone to take up sports

First of all, how was Derby Day?

Derby Day was the highlight of my year and a great end to an amazing season. It was very well organised and there was a great atmosphere around the campus, with more UEA supporters than Essex supporters, even though we were away from home. Unfortunately, it was my first and last Derby Day, but I loved every second of it and will always remember it when looking back at my time at uni.

How did your team do?

With Essex being the tier above us in BUCS for hockey, we expected a tough game, but the boys started strong and kept the momentum going throughout to finish the game with a 6-0 win.

What was a standout moment for you?

Scoring in my last ever game for UEA will always be a memory that sticks with me but going up on stage to collect the medals with all the team has to be the standout moment of what was a great day.

What is it like being president of the men’s hockey club?

Initially, it was tough getting used to things and having to work out a good balance between university work and hockey, but since the new year, I've loved it and found it very rewarding. I have learnt so much and couldn't have done it without the whole club, with a special mention to my committee, who have encouraged such a welcoming and inclusive community within the club.

Why do you think it’s important for students to engage with sports/be in a sports team during their time at university?

Being in hockey has without a doubt made my university experience. Getting out three or four times a week to do some exercise is so important mentally and physically whatever sport it is, and I would encourage anyone to take up sports, especially as hockey as a team dedicated to improving new and eager players. 
It's also a great way of meeting friends outside of your house or flat to socialise and go out with. Anyone worried about joining a club can message the page on social media to get an idea of what it will be like, but from my experience, all clubs at UEA encourage an inclusive environment and are always more than happy to welcome new members.

After not having Derby Day for two of your three years at Uni, was it worth the wait?

Without a doubt, it’s a shame more people in the lower teams don’t get the opportunity, but regardless we have over 30 supporters come down to watch us and create the atmosphere despite not playing.

Do you think you will carry on playing hockey beyond Uni?

Before joining UEA Men’s Hockey, I wasn’t a big hockey player and only played a couple of months in the year at school thinking I wouldn’t get picked for any team at university. However, the coaches and captains throughout my time have been so encouraging and supportive that I have improved to the point that I have now played for every team throughout my years at the university after starting in the 4s. I went for president so I could help more people achieve the experience that I have had and despite not being a big hockey player initially, I have already been looking for clubs to join back at home for next season and I can’t wait to carry on playing hockey beyond university.

Learn more about the Derby Day results.