Football is the most popular sport on the planet. FIFA estimates that there are 3.5 billion fans worldwide. It comes as no surprise that for many students, football plays a real part in deciding where they wish to study. In this series, we are going to be looking at some of the top footballing universities in the UK and worldwide, this week featuring Durham University.

Durham University Athletic Football Club (DUAFC) is made up of the best players across it's colleges and has both men's and women's sides. The club also has links to footstall but as of the 20/21 season, the footstall teams became an independent club.

The men's are made up of three teams, each of whom has found success in recent years. The first team has completed 7 seasons in the BUCS Premier North, and most recently finished in fourth. The 2nd team has been able to retain their place in the Northern 3B league and will soon welcome Durham's 3rd XI to the league after they won their Northern 4D league.

The men's sides train twice a week on Durham's excellent 3G pitches, whilst also regularly competing in league matches. The sides receive strength and conditioning sessions and access to physiotherapy. Outside of football, the club also aims to create an enjoyable team atmosphere and team spirit through various socials after their Wednesday matches.

The club has links to local semi-professional sides through its outstanding coaches, resulting in several players receiving semi-professional contracts. The strong coaching alongside access to various sporting aids such as the S+C sessions has led to some Durham players receiving professional contracts. Johnny Giles, who left the University in 2014, plays for Oxford United. The team bid farewell to its first team goalkeeper, Ben Dudzinski, as he signed for Hartlepool United during the 2016/17 season. The team has also seen its members go on to play international football, like Tom Isola being selected to play for Gibraltar's U21 team, in the 2017 European Championship.

Durham's Women's teams are some of the bests in the country. They have been BUCS national Champions in 2015, 2017, and 2018 and have got three teams, all fighting to win their leagues. The club has become one of the best in the UK through its hard work and commitment to achieving both academic and sporting success, whilst ensuring teamwork, sportsmanship, and inclusion values are upheld. Several players hold scholarships for both academic and sporting success.

The university itself is excellent, known for producing high volumes of outstanding research and being ranked the 78th best university in the world. It has over 200 student union societies as well as 17 different colleges. 85% of its students are involved in either sport, music, theatre, or volunteering which has led to the university achieving titles such as No.1 ranked BUCS team sports champions since 2013.

If you're looking for a top footballing university that will give you excellent educational opportunities, as well as the skills to become successful both in sport and the working world, then Durham is a great option for you! 

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