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From open day to netting a perfect job

Balraj Dhingra (BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 2019) knew sport would play a huge part in his time at Warwick. From meeting lifelong friends to lifting the 2019 Varsity Cup and becoming SU Sports Officer, his experiences helped him score his current role leading sport at UCL.

How did you get involved with Team Warwick and netball at Warwick?

Ever since I visited on an open day, I knew I wanted to get involved with sport at Warwick. It had always been a big part of my life and I wanted to carry on. So, that first week on campus I went along to the SU sports fair and found out about all sorts of clubs and attended trials and tasters, including badminton, football, mixed netball, and dodgeball.

Have you always been sporty or did you hone these talents at Warwick?

I've always been quite sporty but being at Warwick gave me the flexibility to train more and take part in more sports than before. I was also able to learn new sports that I'd never had an opportunity to try before, like netball, dodgeball, and lacrosse.

What sports did you play while at Warwick?

Netball and dodgeball were my main sports, and I ended up playing semi-professional dodgeball for a year towards the end of my degree. Outside of this, I took part in a five-a-side league, volunteered as a coach with the badminton club, and took part in a huge number of friendly and charity tournaments (lacrosse, badminton, swimming).

How did sport impact your time at Warwick and your connections after graduation? 

I tend to be quite an anxious person, but training in any sport enables me to release a lot of worries and focus on just one thing for a few hours. Sport also provides you with a community like no other. Some of my best friends today are people I played dodgeball with at Warwick. I regularly meet up with them for a run, to play some football, or just to go out for a drink.

I'm also currently living with another friend who was on the Rugby League Committee at Warwick.

What are your favourite memories of your time at Warwick?

I have two. One was lifting the cup after winning Varsity 2019. And all the incredible stories that came from it. We won the Rugby League 77-10, after losing the fixture five years in a row. We achieved the biggest overall score in Varsity history to date (59-13), and we got revenge in the netball closing showcase fixture. Having lost the previous year, we beat them and lifted the cup in front of a great Warwick crowd.

The other was The Sports Ball, where we celebrated all the fantastic Team Warwick achievements, including Varsity, brilliant national sport achievements (Yasmin Liverpool winning BUCS Indoor 400m, the Pool and Snooker teams becoming BUCS champions, and so many unbeaten league-winning teams), and raising collectively more than £100,000 for various charitable causes across the year.

How has sport helped you or influenced you in your professional life?

It's no overstatement to say that sport has shaped my career. As I loved sport so much at university, I ran in the SU Spring elections, and I was lucky enough to be voted in as the Sports Officer for a year (2018/19). This kickstarted my career in Higher Education, which took me to Northampton, where I helped set up their performance programme, and now to UCL where I’m supporting the SU to grow the sport and activity provision at their new campus in Stratford. Over the past five years, I‘ve made professional connections that have supported me from across the country and broadened my knowledge tenfold.

Balraj wearing sports kit getting ready to take a netball shot