Venue’s Dougie Dodds finds the “surprising power” of sport

Derby Day. The mystery that shrouds the highlight of UEA’s sporting calendar remains as thick as the day I first learnt about it in first year. This may be to do with my knowledge of sports starting with a vary basic understanding of the rules of badminton from my GCSE PE years, and ending with being pretty sure that if you punch someone during a football game you get told off by a man in black and white stripes.

Now in my last year here at UEA I felt it was about time to get to know the elusive world of sport hands on, and maybe even enjoy myself.

My first event of the day was Archery. Being not well versed in the SportsPark layout I got lost and arrived late. Now, I may not know a lot, but I am not completely sport deprived. Disney’s Robin Hood had taught me that in archery a bullseye is good, and the closer you get the better your score is.

If you miss the board that is bad, and if you shoot someone that’s even worse. I asked one of the score-keepers, Edwin Killick, to explain some of the finer details: “Archery competitions take place at a distance of twenty yards with sixty arrows shot by each archer.

“Scores are calculated based on how close to the centre of the target the arrows hit, with ten points for the innermost ring and the value of each outer ring decreasing by one.”

It was a shame as Essex came away victorious, scraping a one point win for the senior archers, (2063-2064) and a 40 point win for the novices (1208-1248).

After this there was a confusion with the Pool event involving me watching what I thought was the game, only to be told that the actual event was due to start in half an hour, and that what I was watching were the teams warming up. I pretended I knew this and left, making my way to Pole Fitness. Now, I assumed this was like pole-vaulting, or that Scottish sport where they throw telegraph poles long distances. I really should have put two and two together, especially seeing as it was taking place in the LCR, but I blindly followed my ignorance in until it was too late. Although the sport itself is incredibly impressive, I did leave very quickly, not at all due to an overwhelming embarrassment but because I wanted to catch some of the fencing.

Fencing. A sport akin to a swashbuckling, pirate-esque, sword fight, correct? Well, that’s how I imagined it at least, and although the costumes were less cool and there was no blood or parrots, it was not a disappointment. The contestants were remarkable, and although I wasn’t quite following the score keeping the atmosphere from the UEA supporters was amazing. There were actual roars every time a successful hit was landed, and I couldn’t help getting swept up in the excitement of the competition.

If, like me, you have no real interest in sport I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and going to see some events, either at next years Derby Day or any other sports affair.

I won’t be going to any Norwich City football games, but finding interesting, unusual sports and experiencing the feeling of being with a large group of people all supporting one team was eyeopening.

It’s surprisingly powerful.


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Dougie Dodds

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August 2022
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