EUSA Insider:

Rita Perestrelo

Age:                   30
University:        Universidade do Minho (POR)
Volunteer                                                                                                                     Published: 14 June 2019

Describe how and why did you get involved with volunteering at EUSA events?
Back in 2016 I volunteered at two World University Championships (WUC) – Floorball and Karate – organised by FISU. The experience couldn't have been better and I made several friends, not only amongst the volunteers, but also some athletes. That's exactly what led me to the European University Championships (EUC) of Judo, Taekwondo and Karate in 2017, my first volunteering experience with EUSA. During the Karate WUC I was responsible for the Finnish team, to help them in whatever they needed. I picked them up at the airport and as soon as I met them I knew my week would be amazing. We became such great friends that I even visited them in Finland that winter. Through them, I heard about the Karate EUC in Coimbra and that they were probably going to compete there, so of course I applied as a volunteer. During that week at the EUC I heard so many times people talking about the EUSA Games that were going to happen there in 2018 that I immediately made my decision to participate as a volunteer. I was sure it was going to be a spectacular event and it didn't disappoint me at all.

Rita Perestrelo volunteer 3

Tell us about your involvement in sport.
I've been into sports since as long as I can remember – any kind of sports. But my passion was always football. I played with the boys at school because I didn't know any girls’ football team at the time. Finally, at age 16, a girl from my class told me about this friend of hers who played in a team. I immediately contacted them and two days later I talked to the coach and joined the team. Later, when I went to college, it got complicated to keep competing because I had to move to another city, so I joined the University's futsal team instead. But I knew that, as much as I liked futsal, my heart was with football, so as soon as I finished college I talked to my former teammates and joined the new team they were starting that season. Some injuries have thrown me out of the pitch for a while, but I'm still playing and I don't intend to stop any time soon.

Rita Perestrelo

Describe your experience of volunteering at the European Universities Games 2018. Was this your first time volunteering at an international sports event? 
This wasn't my first time volunteering at an international sports event, and that was actually important because we had a huge team of volunteers and although the coordinators tried their best, it was very helpful to have some experienced volunteers among the group.

I was an attaché during the European University Games 2018. This means I had several teams that were relying on me for mostly everything. I helped them with transportation, accommodation, competition schedules and food, but also with things not exactly related to the competition like shopping, visiting the city and partying. I had six Badminton teams (from four different countries) and one Tennis team to take care of in the first half of the competition. When they went away, I got four futsal teams, all from Poland. It might seem like a lot of work – well, it was! – but it was also a lot of fun! During those first days, every time I entered the Badminton sports hall there was always someone from one of my teams with the biggest smile and shouting my name, cheering for me! I will never forget that feeling.

Although everyday was super tiring, with a lot to do, stressful situations to manage, athletes with the most variable problems to solve, no matter what, at the end of the day all the volunteers went partying together (as did most of the athletes). Then we slept a few hours and everyone was ready for another awesome day at the EUC.

“Don't think twice! If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it.”

In 2019 the European Universities Championships will take place all over Europe! Will you apply/ have you applied for the EUC 2019 Volunteer programme?
Not this year. Right now I'm taking part in a six-month international volunteering project, with the European Solidarity Corps. But the European University Championships in 2018 certainly wasn't my last project with EUSA; I intent to keep participating in these kinds of events whenever I can.

Rita volunteer

What is your message to young Europeans interested in volunteering?
Do it! Don't think twice! If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it. The most important thing I can tell you is that you won't be the same afterwards. You might not notice it immediately, but trust me, you will grow more than you expected, you will meet people that will mean more than you expected, you will have fun, you will learn, you will improve your language skills, maybe you will find some new places, maybe you will find some setbacks, maybe the accommodation is not that good, or the food... but you'll find out that no setback really matters when compared to everything else you'll take from this experience. 

EUSA would like to thank Rita for her contribution at the 2018 European Universities Games and hope to see her soon at future EUSA events!