Dear University of Leicester Students,
Picture this: it is the height of lockdown in the last academic year, and you are stuck at Glebe Court.
Let that sink in. Glebe Court in the Oadby student village. Yes, I know. You could not pick anywhere better if you wanted to. The countless cigarette butts, paint peeling off the walls, blocked toilets and the 24/7 security trying to record you in your flat. It felt as if we were on Big Brother. In many ways, we were.
Support for physical and mental wellbeing felt severely lacking. At times it seemed like we were completing a BSc in Alcohol Consumption. Our daily walks to Asda Oadby became the highlight of our day as we decided on the way which flavour of vodka to try that evening.
The only positives around this time were the PCR tests of Glebe’s inhabitants; the flats sequestered and locked away from the romance of the Glebe Court party scene.
Then one day something incredible happened: we manoeuvred our favourite smoking benches into position on opposite ends of the grass in the epicentre of Glebe. We were like moths to a flame. Each of us dug ourselves out of our cesspits of destitution and began kicking a ball around.
No one could have predicted what happened next. The Glebe Court Derby, an all-inclusive game which regularly topped numbers of up to fifteen aside, with the sole aim to kick each other’s shins and slide the ball under the tiny space beneath the benches. It was bliss. When we stepped out onto that makeshift pitch, the lockdown was forgotten. Lockdown, what lockdown?
We had fans shouting from the terraces, gathering in block kitchens to watch the spectacle unfold. For those wanting more of the action, the remaining benches offered a sanctuary to watch the tackles fly in at close range. Glebe Court became a cauldron, creating a riveting atmosphere that could be heard across Oadby.
The Glebe Court Derby became a matter of grave importance to the inhabitants of Glebe. It was a chance for all of us to get together, let off some steam and most importantly have a laugh.
From the start its popularity was unparalleled. We hosted matches of Block vs. Block, held mega Derbies with no limit to team size and even after-match drinks to talk over our game, replaying our best attempts to slide tackle our on-pitch rival out of the game.
We played a friendly match against the Pavilions accommodation and even hosted a summer tournament at Roger Bettles Sports Centre. People were free to enter their own teams and compete in an all or nothing five-a-side competition.
The Glebe Court community blossomed. An Instagram account was set up and regularly posted about the antics at Glebe, both on and off the field. It has since gone on to amass over 150 followers.
I leave you with this: we students can make anything a reality. It is up to students to act and, believe me, when students come together, nothing is impossible. Take it from all of us in the Glebe Ballers Association.
Jacob Stokes, President and CEO of Glebe Ballers Association
Image: Glebe Ballers Association
Jacob Stokes is a second-year Mathematics and Actuarial Science student at University of Leicester. His role model is Austin Powers, loves eating tuna from a can and adores cheese and pickle sandwiches. Find him on Instagram: @glebe_ballers_association or alternatively @jakestokedog.