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PhD student Eleonore Poli talks about a sport that develops balance, strength, speed and coordination, leadership and teamwork

I’m in my second year of my PhD in Materials and Metallurgy, studying protective coatings for turbine blades at the Materials and Metallurgy department. In the future I hope to do research related engineering in the aerospace field, as well as help in the sustainable exploration of Mars.                                                           

I’m driven by a constant need to improve the world and the search for more knowledge. I also love to be constantly challenged, to always push myself more. I ultimately would love to become an astronaut and help in the development of technologies for a more sustainable future. On the hobby side of things, I would love to give regular piano concerts and to become a highly competitive athlete, but time and circumstances will tell if that happens! For handball, we are hoping to be able to train again in the coming months. In the meantime we reminisce about the great season last year and do other training.                       

We reminisce about the wonderful highlight that was winning Varsity last year, although I had even more laughs and joy out of random training. I started playing handball when I stopped swimming training and joined friends in high school. I stopped for two years before coming to Cambridge but then, I met the amazing committee at the Sport’s Fair and couldn’t resist coming to the training, socials and matches! Handball has provided me with a strong group of international friends, much quicker than any other working or social group in Cambridge. It has helped me build confidence, helped me get over long days of research and provided me with a lot of laughs, both during training and socially. It’s a great sport to develop balance, strength, speed and coordination, but also leadership and teamwork, which makes it so amazing. It has helped me feel welcome in Cambridge.    

In 2020 I received a Half Blue for handball from the University, and the Lucy’s Senior Tutor’s Prize for Sporting Blues. The past year I’ve helped in recruiting new players for the team, and some of my arguments are the following: sports teams become your family, give you confidence, good mood and add a skill to your life. If you do not do it for your body at first, at least do it for your mind. You will meet wonderful people, it will give you motivation and it might change your life.