Up to 2,000 elite college sporting stars will travel to Nottingham in April to compete in the AoC Sport National Championships 2017.
Throughout the autumn term students across the country have been battling away in regional heats to qualify for the 39th annual championships – the pinnacle event in the sporting calendar for AoC Sport member colleges.
Being held across five venues at the University of Nottingham from 21 to 23 April, students will compete in 13 different sports, including badminton, 7-a-side football, squash and volleyball.
FE Week headed to Tyne and Wear for the 2016 National Championships last April and will once again be there for the full weekend, as media partner, reporting on all of the developments with up to 2,000 competitors expected.
The number of students taking part in regional tournaments – the qualifiers for the National Championships – grew from 11,000 to 11,200 this year.
AoC Sport has also experienced its best ever league and cup entries – up by 8 and 4 per cent respectively.
Marcus Kingwell, director of AoC Sport, said: “Students will be attending from across the country and, as ever, they are the cream of the crop that colleges have to offer.
“Colleges across the country have embraced our message that sport and physical activity are essential components of college life, and we’re delighted that so many students will be taking part.”
As well as competing in their chosen sport, students battled for points for their region.
The region whose teams and individuals accumulated the most points won the prestigious Wilkinson Sword trophy.
In third place was the West Midlands, in second was the South East, and for the third year in a row the South West were crowned champions.
The event can also provide a springboard for competitors, with Olympic gold medallist Adam Peaty having competed in the 2013 championships.
Last year’s championships also gave FE Week the opportunity to hear from college leaders on the wider benefits to students’ health and aspirations as a result of investing in sport.
John Evans, principal of Yeovil College, said he believed the wellbeing of learners improved as they engaged in more sport and healthy activities, which also help break down social barriers that can sometimes separate students.
Lynne Gardner, head of college sport and enrichment at Peter Symonds College, Winchester, said investing in sport, and being a member of AoC Sport, had enabled her college to “raise our participation levels brilliantly”.
Shane Mann, managing director of Lsect, publishers of FE Week said: “Last year, I was fortunate to attend my first National Championships and was overwhelmed by the dedication and achievements of all those involved. These championships deserve national coverage.”
AoC Sport is a membership organisation launched in August 2014 which campaigns for every college student to participate regularly in sport or physical activity.
Main image: Team south west, the winners of the Wilkinson Sword at AoC Sport National Championships 2016