Nearly 30 students packed into the back of The Gallery Patio & Lounge, pulling chairs from the rest of the bar to find a spot to view the screen. Many wore blue and maroon jerseys, others wore bright red. There were even one or two in a Whitecaps jersey. All these students gathered here at noon on a weekday because of one common sentiment: the love of soccer.
On September 13, UBC-based organization Sport Studio screened the UEFA Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Barcelona FC. Sport Studio screens big sporting events at and around UBC with the goal of building a sports community on campus.
The organization was founded by two soccer fans, Hima Kattumuri and Dhruv Agarwal. The two formed the organization because they were tired of commuting all the way downtown to enjoy big televised sports games with fellow fans when UBC’s community was right there in front of them.
Kattumuri said he has always used sports to find community. “[Soccer] was more of a social thing for me. It helped me [make] a lot of friends.”
Kattumuri found this especially true when he came to UBC. On his second day as a student, he attended a drop-in soccer session and that's where he met Sport Studio’s co-founder and one of his closest friends, Agarwal.
“Sport [is] a great [way to] kickoff conversations when you don't know what to talk about,” said Kattumuri.
The organization currently focuses on viewing parties for soccer, but they hope to ramp up their NBA and F1 screenings and eventually look to expand to locally popular sports like ice hockey. The organization wants to make sure it doesn’t spread its resources too thin by trying to do everything prematurely.
Sport Studio’s recent screening was held at the Gallery Patio & Lounge. Events are regularly held at this location and across various spaces on campus, including student residences.
Two students in manufacturing engineering, Waleed Adnan and Akhilesh Gattineni, who attended the event said they came for the atmosphere. “I just want to feel like I am in a stadium while watching my favourite team,” said Gattineni.
The engineering students believe that organizations like this are important for socializing and building welcoming communities on campus. Several students in attendance were there to socialize and enjoy the game despite not knowing about Sport Studio prior to the event.
For students who may be interested in the organization, Kattumuri says the best thing you can do is to come to one of the organization’s screenings. According to him, it is a great way to check out the atmosphere. It is very accessible; events are free and you can stay as long as you want.
One of Kattumuri’s favourite memories with the organization was the screening of the 2022 UEFA Champions League final at the end of May. Since Sport Studio’s usual location, the Gallery, was closed that day, the organization put a lot of effort into hosting the event at an off campus restaurant called Castaways.
The event sold out with 100 people in attendance to enjoy the game. “That was my best memory because every single thing that happened on that day to make it successful was dividends that paid off on all the small things we did before,” said Kattumuri.
The organization posts updates and information about events on its Instagram @sportstudioubc.
Through Sport Studio, Kattumuri and Agarwal have realized that people want to be a part of an organization that brings people together. When considering who to bring onto the team, the true criteria the founders look for is a love of sports. Kattumuri said, “Frankly, there's nothing else we really care about more than that.”