EUSA Insider:

University Sport Federation of Serbia 

Founded: 1953
Current Headquarters: Belgrade
Website:                                                                                       Published 29 January 2021

Firstly, for those who do not know, please tell us a bit about your NUSA...
Student sports activities started in Serbia on April 1, 1953, under the auspices of the Sports Committee of the Union of Students of Yugoslavia. Four years later the Association changed its name to University Federation of Organisations for Physical Education of Yugoslavia. However, from 1974 until the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it bore the name of University Federation for Physical Education of Yugoslavia. Since 2006, the organisation has been operating as the University Sports Federation of Serbia as the umbrella organisation for the sports organisations of universities in the Republic of Serbia, encompassing more than 15 000 students-athletes. The University Sports Federation of Serbia was one of the founders of the European University Sports Association (EUSA) in Vienna in 1999. Today our federation brings together all accredited institutions across our country (18 universities), as well as their students at all levels of study. The total number of students who have the opportunity to engage in sports activities within their universities is 240 000 students.

Can you describe some of the major events your NUSA has hosted in recent years, both national and international?
In view of the number of participations, the number of European university championships organised and of the sports results achieved, it is one of the most active and successful NUSAs in the European university sports family. So far, the University Sports Federation of Serbia and its members have organised nine European university championships, while our students participated in more than 50 European university championships.

Serbia opening ceremony

What have been some of the highlights for your NUSA in recent years?
We are particularly proud of the fact that (including the period of the former Yugoslavia), our students participated in 29 Summer Universiades. In these major events, they won a total of 138 medals (38 gold, 51 silver, 49 bronze). Their participation included 27 Winter Universiades in which they won a total of 30 medals (9 gold, 9 silver, 12 bronze). We are also proud of the fact that the Republic of Serbia and our Federation successfully organised eight World University Championships and ten European Universities Championships.

“Our most important project is the 5th edition of the European Universities Games.”

How important are the EUSA events – both sporting and educational – for your NUSA?
We would like to continue marketing ideas to FISU and EUSA organisations with which we have extraordinary cooperation. Our goal is based on the interest of the largest possible population of students to participate in all university sports activities. What used to be our weakness is now our greatest strength, with regard to expertise, commitment, and responsibility. About the University Sports Federation of Serbia is currently being caring by some of the best sports professionals and full professors at our top faculties, which is something that makes us different and gives us true strength, cohesion, and confidence that our work is based on a sincere and academic relationship. We have brought the sport back to the universities and we will not allow the sport to slip out of the university frameworks.

Serbia celebrating

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?
Over the past couple of years, the association was found in a difficult situation. Now that difficult period is behind us, the association is at least ten steps above that period. The short-term goals of our alliance were precisely to overthrow the tendency that the sport stands out from the university only as a competitive sport, where some people have tried to get it out of the system of academic functioning.

We have managed to bring that back and the entire university public is now behind university sport, which was our goal, restoring legitimacy in order to properly represent the 240 000 students, which was not the case in the past. One of the main goals we strive for is to regulate the status of our members and to resolve their financing for easier functioning. Linking sports to health and reaching as many students as possible would be a long-term goal of the University Sports Federation of Serbia. Looking at the long-term goals for us, sports results are not our biggest goal, but the enlightenment of students in physical activities, education on the impact of physical exercise or sports on health and developing a complete personality. In addition, one of the priorities we strive for over the next five years is to make sport not only an extracurricular activity but to be part of the curriculum of all academic programmes.

Finally, what does the future of university sport in your country hold?
Our most important project is the 5th edition of the European Universities Games, so most of our energy is focused on assisting the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the University of Belgrade to organise them in the best way possible. This is a special event and a great challenge for both us and our students and fellow students who will have the opportunity to see the best athletes in one place and be part of the history of university sports.

EUSA wishes the University Sport Federation of Serbia 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!