What's up: Values that University Sport can promote

What's up: Values that University Sport can promote

To many individuals sport is more than just a social activity or a way to stay healthy-it is a way of life. Globalisation is quickly changing the way that sport is viewed within society but to many students the intrinsic value is still very evident. In this month’s Student Column, we hear from Ruben Alves from Portugal.

As President of the Academic Federation of Porto (FAP), the regional umbrella organisation of Porto students’ unions, I had the pleasure of leading the Organising Committee of both the 9th European University Beach Volleyball Championship in 2013 and the 7th World University Beach Volleyball Championship in 2014.

Importance of team work

From that enriching experience I’ve learned many things: first, that such projects can only be achieved through team work. Cooperation is in fact a value that all athletes do understand, because no one accomplishes any good result in sports by training or playing alone. Secondly, that sport is one of the best means to get people together. I learned that diversity is a requirement to every main event, where sharing different backgrounds, different cultures and different life experiences is the secret ingredient of a good sporting event.

I’ve served students’ organisations and university sports for 5 years now and in my experience no other activity has the values that my generation stands for and are able to voice this in the appropriate way: values like hospitality, friendship, pluralism, fair-play, and freedom of thought and of speech, of movement and of action. This generation cherishes communication, globalisation and mutual international knowledge and mobility. We genuinely care about other countries, other people and other cultures. We love new ideas, new gadgets and new places, so we see each other as friends and as equals, not as foes.

Sharing experience

In my opinion that’s one of the strongest reasons why more and more students play university sports, not only as a healthy activity, but also and foremost as an activity where entertainment and sharing experiences come together to fulfil our most deep desires of human relations and happiness.

In every university sport event I leave with the same message – the important things are freedom of speech, as some call it: make friends, visit places, enjoy the many events, savour the food, breed the air and seize life. After all, I think that’s what life is, and what sports can teach us!

Ruben Alves

Rúben Alves is a student at the University of Porto.