EUSA Insider:

French University Sport Federation 

Founded: 1978
Current Headquarters: Paris
Website:                                                                                    Published 19 February 2021

Firstly, for those who do not know, please tell us a bit about your NUSA...
Founded in 1978 in the continuity of the first university sport’s federation in 1920, the French University Sport Federation (FFSU) counted 120 000 licensees in 700 affiliated sports associations in 2019/2020. These athletic students can take part in any of the 65 sports that we offer, including 52 individual and 13 team sports.In order to offer a full university sports service to our students, the FFSU performs the following:

- Organise and promote competitive sport for all higher education students (universities and high schools)
- Represent France at major international championships: Universiades, World Universities Championships, European Universities Championships
- Deliver the titles of French university champions
- Facilitate the reconciliation between sports practise at all levels and the pursuit of studies in higher education
- Develop and strengthen relations with each national sports federation
- Train leaders, judges and referees.

Can you describe some of the major events your NUSA has hosted in recent years, both national and international?
Each year, FFSU organises nearly 120 French championships and 20 000 team sports matches. At the same time, and following the heritage of the first World University Games of 1923, we strive to be dynamic players in international student sport by organising major events. These include the “Master U”, a world university tennis event with eight nations (France, Great Britain, China, United States, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Italy in 2019), international rugby matches in electric atmospheres against England and Ireland as well as 26 university championships under the aegis of FISU.

France at FISU Games

What have been some of the highlights for your NUSA in recent years?
Every two years, France is proud to participate with a strong delegation in the Universiade, including the last ones in Naples and Krasnoyarsk. Since securing second place at the inaugural Chamonix Winter Universiade in 1960, France has been consistently in the top 10, revealing future champions. On the EUSA side, France has also been actively involved since its creation in 1999 when our national director at the time, Therese Salvador, became the first vice president of this institution. Elected best European NUSA in 2019, FFSU is honoured with this award which salutes its attachment to the European territory. We feel a rise in power and we are happy to be able to appear regularly in the Top 3 of the best nations. The University of Bordeaux also received the 2017 EUSA Best University Award.

“Convinced that the EUSA experience is a formative stage in the life of a student, our athletes express great motivation to take part in what is, often, a first international competition.”

How important are the EUSA events – both sporting and educational – for your NUSA?
Convinced that the EUSA experience is a formative stage in the life of a student, our athletes express great motivation to take part in what is, often, a first international competition. FFSU knows the value of EUSA events which are essential steps for the development of our youth and the transition of a national athlete towards the international stage.

French athletes

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted university sport across the world. How was your NUSA able to adapt to the situation, what activities have you still managed to organise and are there any positives you have noted from these difficult circumstances?
Like the entire international sports movement, FFSU is suffering from the current pandemic and has lost 80% of its licensees for the 2020-2021 season. Being a sports/university federation, we are at the intersection of two very affected fields, and therefore double victims. However, because it is the spirit of the indefatigable Gauls that we are, we devote all our energy to reinventing a viable sporting offer in this particular context. Our latest idea? The U-Run Challenge! The aim is to encourage all citizens, licensees or not, to run as far as possible until the deadline. The only condition is that participants must choose a university to run on behalf of. To take part, the Running Heroes mobile app must be downloaded and connected to a sports watch or other running app. The distance accumulated will then automatically be recorded for the benefit of the chosen university. To encourage participation, individual gifts will be given out each week, including Adidas shoes and tracksuits. At the end of the U-RUN Challenge, the university with the highest amount of collective kilometres wins.

Finally, within the framework of the Olympic and Paralympic Week which takes place in France at the beginning of February of each year, the FFSU launched two actions "Let's dance towards 2024" and the "Trivial Sport U" to exalt the body and the spirit of its students in anticipation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris 2024.

Finally, what does the future of university sport in your country hold?
With this new year 2021, we first wish to be able to calmly resume activity because our students really need it. Moreover, this year opens a new federal cycle for FFSU which wants to rethink the way it offers sport by putting the well-being of the student at the heart of our attention. Through the prism of the historical values of Jean Petitjean, we want to understand the challenges of the future by transforming our sport with eco-responsible and civic sports practices. The future belongs to sport ... and the future is European for sure!

EUSA wishes the French University Sport Federation well for all their future endeavours, and looks forward to seeing their NUSA members and student-athletes at many of our events in future, especially at this summer's European Universities Games in Belgrade!