Nowadays we have to believe that being a student isn’t enough just by itself. The development as both a student and as an individual within a Higher Education institution and the Academic Environment involves not only acquiring the mind and technical skills that are provided to us, but also trying to find, within our own likes and dislikes, our own learning spaces and personal experiences that can provide us the personal development needed for the construction of our future.
Sports, and specially University Sports, are unquestionably a platform where we can find several learning experiences, specifically at the level of a regular sports practice on several sports, in a more formal or even non formal level, but also an opportunity to strengthen our leadership, teamwork, and management skills through our involvement at the sports organizations, on the competition management processes or through the sports participations.
The university sports structures, like federations, associations or clubs, are clearly a privileged place for young students to be involved and acquire a set of skills that prepare them not only to their future as professionals, but only on enrich their curriculum and their social skills.
These skills can be developed at many levels. First because we’re talking about structures that work for students, that work with students within its structure, and that in some countries like Portugal are run by students; Second, because they allow students to experience different type of sports and social realities; Also, they promote an inter exchange between people from different countries and cultures which is one of the fundamentals upon which Europe is built on.
Given all our work the reality in Portugal is increasingly challenging and stimulating, involving more and more structures and students on the development of University Sports. This has been a strong and sustained development that still has a big space to grow upon.
Portugal is seen these days as one of the first line European Countries, not only through its participation at the European level, but also because of its role at hosting several events in different places around the country. The most distinctive feature of the Portuguese events is for sure the strong involvement and leading role of students at all the stages of the preparation and organization of the events.
Being a student myself, I’m sure that the opportunities that I had during my academic life, especially within university sports, strengthened my learning process, and must be seen as an unique opportunity for students to leverage the needed skills for their future. Given that, the involvement of students on these types of organizations should be strongly encouraged and developed.
The first major multi-sports event where I was strongly involved was in the National Finals of the Portuguese Championships, an event held by FADU annually, hosted back in 2011. We had more than 10 sports, 15 championships, and more than 2000 athletes competing during a week. It was also a strong opportunity to once again show the capacity to host big sports events. More than 200 students were involved in the organization in several different areas, showcasing the benefits of matching their roles in the event with their academic study fields.
During my journey as a sports involved person, I had the chance to be part of many events. Especially with FADU I had the chance of taking part in many international events, of which I would highlight the European Universities Championships. Given the fact that the participants are gathered according to their Universities, the environments and sportsmanship is very good. The experience is unique for everyone: participants, staff and organizers.
I strongly believe that it is fundamental to stimulate university students to take part this kind of challenges. Doing so, by promoting interchange programs like the EUSA volunteer program, for example, or by enforcing a “for students, by students” mindset, would clearly benefit students from all around Europe. Also, strengthening the status of an event like EUSA Games, more interesting for media and socially more high profile, will clearly raise awareness globally. EUSA and University Sports provide life changing moments and memories on university students, so let’s get them on board!
The author Filipa Godinho is a Doctoral Student and President of FADU Portugal.
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