What's up: Reflecting on international university sports bodies

What's up: Reflecting on international university sports bodies

John Elf is a student from the University of Lund, Sweden. He is a keen ice hockey player and a huge advocate of University Sport and its values. John has represented his country on numerous occasions, including attending the 28th FISU Conference 2015 as one of the keynote speakers. In this month’s student column, John shares his personal experience with international university sports structures.

My name is John and I’m a student from the University of Lund, Sweden. In Sweden, University sport has not received the same attention as it has in some other countries. Where I’m from, there are limited opportunities to compete for your school. But, I’m trying to change that. My aim is to promote University Sport.

This year I was, for the second time, invited to South Korea - at this ocassion to take part in the 28th FISU Conference. Last year I attended the FISU Forum as the Swedish Student Delegate and following a presentation competition, I was invited to return to be a keynote speaker at the conference. I was invited to be on stage during the closing ceremony to give a speech with Delta Wright from Jamaica. Last year’s FISU Forum was my first encounter with FISU and other national federations besides my own.

John Elf and Delta Wright

From the fast developing fields of university sports in Sweden, international university sports organisations can easily seem like a big and far reaching organisation, with a top structure of politicians that are predominantly men, and older. And that was exactly my first impression. I was scared at first but after a few encounters, I won’t say that I was completely wrong, but my view has changed quite a bit. And here is why:

Much more than just an organizer of sport tournaments. Perhaps FISU’s greatest legacy is the Universiade, beside that, FISU also creates a platform to exchange ideas and perspective on life outside of the sporting facilities, and they are great at it. FISU does not only influence the international sport community, but they work to change and develop individual national sport federations. By creating forums and platforms for people to interact with each other, FISU is stimulating change on a national level. Take the FISU Forum for example, where people form all over the world exchange ideas at workshops and individual meetings. Through this type of interaction with others, I got a completely new perspective on my own culture and how we act as a people. I believe that insight about yourself, to understand how different your methods are, is fundamental for change.

Constant development for the good, and considering the size and structure, it is happening rather quickly. Even though I sometimes see FISU as a big organisation, it is trying to flatten itself to obtain a more horizontal structure. With a newly created Student Committee and FISU Forums being held constantly the bottom and top layers are shrinking in distance.

Elf doing the presentation

From my experiences with international university sport bodies, I have learnt so much. I have so many more ideas that I plan to take back to Sweden, in order to keep University Sport on the national agenda. I was so pleased to be able to represent Sweden and Europe twice on an international level and I have had such a great experience I hope that more students take up opportunities like these within your own national federations.

Are you a student with an opinion? We are looking for new contributors for our student column every month. Feel free to contact stc@eusa.eu to offer a piece or propose a topic.