Tackle mental health at Mantality retreat

American football and rugby league players together in a line

Mental Health is a continued hot topic at the University of Leeds recently, with Rugby League and American Football clubs leading on a mental health campaign “Talking Tackles It”.

In a continued effort to help raise awareness and opportunity to discuss this topic, Leeds Sport has worked alongside Leeds Rhinos player Stevie Ward to offer a rare opportunity for a handful of male students. Although best known for his performances on the pitch, off the pitch he works to promote greater discussion around the issue of male mental health through his online platform Mantality.

Taking the online platform a step further Mantality has now put together its first retreat alongside high performance coach Craig White.

Logo for new mantality

The retreat will be held at Weetwood Hall, starting on Friday the 26th Jan at 8:30am and finish at 7pm on Sunday the 28th Jan.

“In this 3-Day Retreat, we will be creating the perfect environment for you to finally step into your power as a man. We will be sharing knowledge, experience, insight, and tools to enable you to cut free from your limiting beliefs, cultivate more presence in your life, and move forwards into a life fueled with passion, a life on your own terms, a life you really want.”


How to Apply

There are five spaces available on the retreat for University of Leeds students which have been funded by The Footsteps Fund. Those wishing to apply are asked to express their interest in an email to Eamonn Laird at e.h.laird@leeds.ac.uk as soon as possible. Questions to consider include:

What is your motivation for going on the retreat?
Why do you feel attending will benefit you?
How do you think you will be able to take what you learn and impact those around you in a positive way?

For any other information please contact Eamonn Laird on the address above.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fight their way to bronze at UKBJJA

Martial Arts

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu took bronze at their first competition of the year with five gold, three silver and two bronze individual placings.

On the 25th November, the Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) society competed in a UK Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association (UKBJJA) competition at Warwick University. BJJ is a grappling combat sport where competitors aim to control and then submit each other. Matches start from the feet with both competitors aiming to takedown, control and submit their opponent on the floor. Matches run for a minimum of five minutes and can only end earlier if one competitor manages to make the other tap/submit- whether this be through a joint lock or choke. Submissions are positions in which an opponent is forced to tap/submit otherwise could suffer a bone breakage or passing out unconscious. Otherwise, a point’s decision will be given to the competitor who won more advantageous and controlling positions.

The UKBJJA are a national organisation that put together BJJ Competitions for Universities to stake their claim as the best Brazillian Jiu Jitsu society in the UK. Last weekend was our first competition of this academic year and University of Leeds successfully came third out of all the universities that competed.

Divisions are separated by weight and experience. There are beginner (up to two years), intermediate (up to three years) and advanced (plus three years). All matches are either gi or no gi. In gi matches, competitors are required to wear a gi (martial arts suit that looks like pyjamas) which has a larger focus on grips. No gi events are faster moving. Matches are set up in a tournament scenario, where competitors will need to have up to five matches to take gold.

All together the University of Leeds took 5 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 2 bronze, with medals coming from the intermediate and beginner divisions. Everyone who competed fought their hearts out, with some of our competitors having to pull out of their brackets due to injury.

The medal winners included Nathan Wanjau, who in only his second competition won three gold medals, one in the beginner no gi category, another in the beginner gi category and his third in the beginner Absolute Openweight division in which he had to fight opponents of any and all sizes. Alannah Russell took gold in her weight categroy and bronze in the Absolute Openweight female division. Chinyere ‘Lily’ Chilliredclaw Wokocha also claimed gold in the beginner Absolute Openweight no gi women’s division, alongside silver and bronze in gi women’s division. Finally, Sean Maguiness competed in the Intermediate division and came away with double silver in both gi and no gi under 69kg division.

If you’d like to find out more about the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu society here at Leeds, please visit their page or head to their Facebook group

Korfball; the mixed team sport tackling sexism

Korfball Header

“Incredible. Unique. Life-changing. Unforgettable.”

Just some of the words used by our members, old and new, to describe our magical korfball; the best sport you’ve never heard of and the game tackling sexism in sport.

Korfball is a mixed team sport devised by a Dutch schoolteacher, Nico Broekhuysen in 1903. Broekhuysen taught in one of the first mixed sex schools in Amsterdam, and wanted a game that both boys and girls could play. The rules are designed so that there were no advantages gained in height, sex or physical prowess.

How do you play?

Korfball is played by two teams of 8 on a court, with four females and four males on each team. The object is to score more goals then the opposition, which players do by working together to move the ball up the pitch quickly.

As dribbling is forbidden teams must instead rely on quick passing and intrinsic movement to get into shooting range. There are no fixed positions in korfball and players are required to alternate between attack and defence every time two goals are scored.

Shooting quickly is also a must in this game because unlike basketball or netball (where you can just shoot no matter what), in Korfball you can be defended which means your shot won’t count. There are 3 criteria that are met to make an attacking player defended. The defender must be:

  1. Between the attacker and the basket
  2. Within arm length of the attacker and are looking at them
  3. Actively trying to block the ball.

To get a feel for the game check out this highlight video


Korfball at the University of Leeds

At the University of Leeds we have a really exciting inclusive society that is always looking for new members to join.

We have 3 teams representing the university this year and each team plays competitively throughout the year in local leagues. We also have the opportunity to compete against the top 16 universities in the country at the BUCS national tournament!

But it isn’t all as serious as it sounds at the University of Leeds Korfball Club. We welcome everyone who just wants to play and train socially. Throughout the year we have countless socials and weekends away to celebrate and play some friendly Korf against other universities.

We also have a yearly trip to the Netherlands where we take part in an international tournament called Attila. We spend two days in Amsterdam sight-seeing and two days in Eindhoven korfing around, a trip which is open to everyone for a great weekend away. It’s as much about the sights and scenes as it is the Korf.

Korfball Amsterdam


Not only is Korfball a fun sport to play, it is a great way to keep fit so if you want to try something new then come along to one of our training sessions. Our training takes place on Wednesdays at 5-7pm and Thursday 7-8pm both at The Edge in Sports Hall 2.

To find out more about what we’re up to, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (leedsunikorf), and Instagram

On 2nd December we will being doing an Instagram takeover of the Leeds sport page (leeds_sport) for our BUCS prelim qualifiers so please tune in to see some live Korf.


Keeping Fit Over Christmas

The Christmas holidays are a great opportunity for you to really push on with your training. They are, however also an opportunity for you to undo all the hard work you put in during the first Semester. To help ensure that you get the most out of your holidays, this blog will break down what you can do to help yourself into 2 areas:

  1. Activity
  2. Recovery


If you have access to a gym, use it. Not going to the gym and lifting weights for a month during the holidays will set you back a long way when you return to University for the second Semester. You don’t have to follow a strict programme as just getting something done is better than nothing. If you do the following at least once per week this will put you in a good place training wise:



Upper body push (eg. bench press)

Upper body pull (eg. pullups)

As it’s the holidays, you probably want to spend most of your time outside the gym rather than in it. Why not get outside? Running outside rather than inside on a treadmill is not only great for your body, but refreshes your mind. Long walks through the countryside at this time of year will be full of fantastic scenery, as well as being a sociable activity (as long as you are with other people), and also handy for getting your 10,000 steps in!

Now is also a great time to try new things. Not been cycling before? Why not get outside and go for a ride? Play squash or badminton inside with friends, with the added bonus of staying warm when it’s snowing. Playing a new sport or activity will keep you fit and refresh your mind if you’ve been concentrating on one sport during the semester.

Whether you have access to a gym or not, there is plenty you can do in the comfort of your own home. Just doing a body weight circuit every day will help to keep you fit with minimal investment of time, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your holidays. There are many ways to do circuits. One way is outlined below:

Pick 6-8 exercises. Perform each for 30 seconds, not resting until all the exercises are done. Then rest for 2 minutes and do the whole thing 3-4 times.

Example circuit:

  • Lunges
  • Burpees
  • Pressups
  • Plank
  • Crunches
  • Squats
  • Leg Lowers


One benefit of being at home during the holidays is the home-cooked food. This will aid your recovery, meaning that you will be able to train every day. However, there are lots of other things you can do to help your body recover and be in better physical shape. This includes stretching, mobility work, sleep and active recovery.

Stretching and mobility work go hand in hand. You can do normal stretching, holding positions where you feel a light stretch for 30-60 seconds. You can use a foam roller or hockey/lacrosse/golf balls to roll lightly on tight areas until they release their tension.

Sleep and naps are always important, and now is a good time to get into good habits for when you return to University. Try to get approximately 8 hours of sleep in a night. Ideally your room is as dark as possible, and cool. You want to be without bright lights or electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.

Active recovery can take a few forms. If your legs are tired and stiff for training, for example, going on a long walk can help to loosen them off. Additionally, doing a body weight circuit, slowly going through as large a range of motion in each movement as possible, can help the whole body feel better after a tough training session the previous day.


Final thoughts

Use your holidays wisely. Even a little bit of activity performed every day in the holidays will help you hugely by the time you return to University. Having a healthy, fit body will not only help you enjoy those extra mince pies, but will mean that you hit the ground running in your chosen sport when you get back to University. Additionally, the old adage rings true: ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’. With exams approaching, if you take care of your body now it will help you concentrate and study for them.



University staff and students more active than the general population

woman doing yoga

77% of staff and students at the University of Leeds are active, with 60% of the activity they take part in happening on campus.

The latest insights from the Balancing Life survey which took place in March 2017 are available to view online here, and show that University of Leeds students and staff are more active than the general population in the UK, however Leeds students are less active than the average higher education population.

The Balancing Life Survey, ran by the Sport & Physical Activity Service (SPA) at the University has given real insight into the activity levels of staff and students at Leeds, as well as their relationship to being active and a snapshot of their wellbeing. Of the people that completed the survey 77% were active, while 23% were insufficiently active or inactive. Staff were 3% more active than students and 60% of activity that people take part in happens on campus. This is a figure that SPA are committed to increasing and through collaborative working with departments across the University SPA is looking for ways in which activity can be incorporated into staff and students lives on campus. Ideas such as lunchtime yoga in meeting rooms and lecture theaters as well as walking meetings are just some of the initiatives that could be introduced.


When asked directly about their relationship to sport and physical activity, 51% of people ‘do it regularly and are sticking with it’, 6% are ‘not considering it’ and 43% are ‘thinking about it, have looked into options and are just getting involved’. This 43% are the people that SPA are working to support so they begin to create positive habits for life.

The aim of the survey was to establish and better understand the current activity levels of students and staff at the University of Leeds, while also taking into consideration their wellbeing. It has been a great success and is creating opportunities for SPA to pilot interventions that will encourage faculty, staff, student and the public’s participation and involvement in physical activity and sport at the University of Leeds. This is a key aim of the University’s sport and physical activity strategy which you can view online here.

Gryphons Crowned Women’s Dry-Slope Champions

For the first time in recent history, University of Leeds Snowriders were announced as this years Women’s British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Dry Slope Champions with stand out performances from Sports Scholar Gillian Finnerty and team mate Jenny Davies.

In the women’s snowboard event, Finnerty retained her gold medal title in the big air competition, with a huge 180° to seal the win. She then took a second gold in the slopestyle for an impressive 4th year running. In the Snowboard Cross (SBX) and Giant Slalom (GS), Finnerty picked up two silvers, missing out in the GS by just 0.2 seconds. Fellow Leeds Gryphon Lucy Wyatt made a great first impression claiming 18th in the GS in her first ever snowboarding competition. Finally the team picked up 4th in the team duals having been knocked out in the semi finals by eventual winners Loughborough.

Over in the men’s event, snowboarder and freestyle captain Oliver Chapman was impressive on the jump in the big air event but narrowly missed out on the finals after falling on his 540° attempt in the semis.

In the women’s ski event it was Jenny Davies who shone claiming two golds in the ski slalom and again in the ski giant slalom. Last year Davies was on track for first position but ended up straddling a gate in her second run so this year she was back with a vengeance and put a big distance between herself and second place to claim the gold she deserved.

As for the men’s ski event, Chris Guest put in a good display finishing 33rd in Ski Slalom and 49th in Ski GS. President and freestyle skier James Hough was performing well in the big air but the incredibly high standard of the group prevented him reaching the top eight to go through to the finals. It was Team GB athletes who claimed first and second in men’s ski disciplines. Click here for a list of full results from the weekend.

A huge congratulations to Gillian, Jenny and the rest of the team who headed to BUCS dry slope. Looking forward to seeing your achievements in the rest of the season!

BUCS Girls Can

3 girls doing yoga in this girl can t-shirts

Since it’s launch in 2015, This Girl Can has swept the nation encouraging and empowering women to get physically active. Each academic year British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) coordinate a special week of female-focused action, engaging with universities across the country.

That’s why as part of the ‘BUCS Girls Can’ week, we’re highlighting all the fantastic things you can get have a go at. Have a look at whats on offer below.

Whats on?

  • Zumball

    A fun, fitness session with a difference. Combining strength exercises and body weight conditioning with a ball to provide a predominantly core and upper body workout. Who knew there was so much you could do with a ball!

    When? Monday 20th November 16:00 – 17:00

    Where? Cromer Terrace

    Cost? £3    Book here

  • Weight Training

    An introduction to weight training, tailored specifically for women only. It will aim to cover the basics of weight training, building confidence to then build in the techniques and exercises into your own training sessions.

    When? Tuesday 21st November, 17:30 – 18:30

    Where? The Edge, S&C Room

    Cost? £3    Book here

  • Woodhouse Workout

    Led by our friendly, inspirational instructor Teejay Jones, Woodhouse Workout takes advantage of the beautiful Woodhouse Moor park right on our doorstep. It combines cardio and resistance training through fun pair work, games and team building.

    When? Wednesday 22nd November, 12:15 – 13:00

    Where? Woodhouse Moor, meet at Cromer Terrace

    Cost? £3    Book here

  • Yoga Flow, Align Your Spine

    A combination of pure movement and vinyasa flow yoga. Open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to use their body correctly. Moving to music to release tension, increase flexibility and build strength.

    When? Friday 24th November, 16:00 – 17:00

    Where? Cromer Terrace

    Cost? £3    Book here



We’ll also be featuring one of our very own Leeds Gryphons Women’s teams as our #onetowatch on BUCS Wednesday so tune in to the @Leeds_Sport twitter account to catch the live action!



It’s OK To Talk

Rugby league squad team photo celebrating with hands in the air alongside a mascot

Our university boasts one of the best, most established and the oldest rugby league clubs in the country; The University of Leeds Rugby League Club. Our first team competes strongly every year in the northern premier league and the national cup, with our second team fielding an improving side every year with players competing weekly for a place in the first team. Not only are we a respected club throughout university rugby league but internally recognized as the University of Leeds Team of the Year 2016, in our 50th year of competing. We pride ourselves on being a tight knit, diverse club that grows in strength and stature every year, and every member of the club can vouch for it being the best and most important aspect of their university life.


However, through all of the fun and excitement of being involved in a successful rugby league club, sometimes our darkest hours are not documented. James Burke, a valued and dear friend to all involved in the club and a wonderful talent on the pitch took his own life in April 2017. Unfortunately, this is not as uncommon as might be expected.

“Suicide is the biggest killer among young men in the UK, which to me and my friends involved in Rugby, is not acceptable in a world that is supposedly the most accepting and tolerant generation of humans so far.”

How is it okay that our brother felt he had nowhere to turn in his time of need?

A silver lining

It quickly becomes clear what’s important in our situation, and we are reacting in a way to honour Burko’s life in the best way we know how. Campaigns like #itsokaytotalk have paved the way and with the help of charities and organisations like Mantality, headed by Leeds Rhino’s Stevie Ward, and The Andy Man’s club, the message has begun to get out there about mental health in young men and athletes.

Closer to home Sharon Burke, the strongest and most inspirational woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, has set up the James Burke Foundation that as a club we now work closely with. Fundraising ideas have been plentiful from everyone involved including concrete plans for a month of events in November and the running (and probably some walking) of the Leeds half marathon next year. We would invite you to contact the club through the student union for more information if you would like to get involved in the fundraising work. You can do this by emailing Student Activities on Activities@leeds.ac.uk.

Special thanks to the Leeds University Union and University of Leeds for the help and support in the tough times and the continued support in helping us with our work.

Kyle Greenwood, 
University of Leeds Rugby League Club

Facility Changing Room Closures – Thursday 19th October

Due to essential maintenance works on our water supply we will be closing changing rooms 1 to 6 from 17:30 today, we apologies for the inconvenience this causes.  The Swimming Pool Village change will remain available for showering and toilets.