What's up: EUG Belgrade hosts forge ahead
In this month’s What’s Up Student Column, FISU Volunteer Academy participant Mr Bojan Raskovic chats with the President of the University Sport Federation of Serbia (USSS) Mr Dejan Madic, who reflects on the progress made in Serbian university sport, and the preparations for next year’s highly-anticipated EUSA European Universities Games in the country’s capital, Belgrade.
The University Sports Association of Serbia has a long history and tradition, founded in 1953. Thanks to the efforts of the students and professors of Belgrade University, the organisation was founded in the capital city and is now celebrating 67 years of existence, making it one of the oldest National University Sports Associations in the region.
"Today our federation brings together all accredited institutions across the country, as well as their students at all levels of study,” says Mr Madic. “The total number of students who have the opportunity to engage in sports activities within their universities is about 200,000; students who have the opportunity to participate in all our activities.
"For us, sport is a means of communication with a clear message: Mens sana in corpore sano – which means a healthy mind in a healthy body,” he explains. “Knowing that more than 25 different ethnicities live in our country, we can say that sports offers the greatest opportunity to develop multiculturalism.
“We strive to make our work as transparent as possible,” continues Mr Madic. “University leagues, lectures, workshops, sports days as well as our humanitarian and volunteer activities are what interest students the most. We share these activities with the public as well as with students through our member universities.”
The biggest event coming up next summer are the European Universities Games in Belgrade. The Games were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020.
“Given the global situation with the pandemic, the fifth European Universities Games were postponed to the summer of 2021, so now most of our energy is focused on organising this event. It is our most significant project, during which we will have the opportunity to host over 6,500 athletes, 2,000 sports workers and 2,500 volunteers from all over Europe. We organise these Games together with EUSA (European University Sports Association).”
The fact that Belgrade is hosting these Games is a testament to the hard work put in over the past couple of years, when the association was in a somewhat difficult situation.
“Our short-term goal was to remove the notion that sport at university level is only about competitive sport; some people didn’t want it within the academic system,” says Mr Madic. “We have managed to bring that back and the entire university public is now backing the university sport movement. Now, one of the main goals we strive for is to regulate the status of our members and to resolve their financing for easier functioning. In addition, one of the priorities we have for the next five years, is to make sport not only an extracurricular activity, but part of the curriculum of all academic programmes. Physical exercise and sports are a must, for developing health and a complete personality.”
The USSS President is hopeful that the association will continue to host many international events in the future. “When we are talking about international goals, as we have done so far, we would like to continue working on ideas with FISU and EUSA. We have excellent cooperation with both, and I would like to invite Mr Adam Roczek and Mr Oleg Matytsin to visit. Our goals are based on bringing the largest possible population of students to participate in all university sports activities,” he concluded.
This article first appeared for FISU on fisu.net. The author Bojan Raskovic is a fourth year student of the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education at the University of Novi Sad and is a student-athlete himself.
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