The two-day meeting of the EUSA Supervisory Commission and EUG 2020 representatives took place in a good atmosphere and brought a new level of optimism in organization of the 5th European Universities Games in Belgrade, which are scheduled from July 12 to 25.
The first operative of the European University Sports Association, Matjaz Pecovnik, expressed his satisfaction with the working visit to the Serbian capital and stressed that EUG 2020 could set new standards for all future organizers of the Games.
How do you satisfied with all you have seen and heard from the representatives of different EUG 2020 sectors during meeting in Belgrade?
– If we know the fact that 250 days left until the start of the competition, and if we take in consideration difficulties in organization over the last three years, we must emphasize that project is on the right way, a good way, so we can expect well organized, maybe the best European University Games so far.
When it comes to EUSA standards for the organization of the European University Games, in which segment do you see the greatest potential for growing in Belgrade next summer?
– That chance is in every segment, it is always chance to make something better in your life, to create something new. It is important that you are satisfied with some accomplishment at some point if you have in mind the circumstances and opportunities, the environment and the country in which the Games are located. EUSA has never treated the Games as something that is fixed to the number of sports and certain standards. No, instead of this, we are trying to adapt to the country where they are held. Our last Games were held in Coimbra with 13 sports because there were no conditions for more. Belgrade has the ability to make the biggest Games so far. It’s a huge city with very good accommodation for all the participants. It can be better in any area that it was. I hope that the Belgrade’s Games will remain the best in all the aspects.
The project is extremely demanding and complex…
– The European Universities Games are one of the most complicated events you can imagine. This difference from the Universiade, not involving national teams that have their own coordinators so it’s easier to organize, but over 1,000 university teams from 500 different Universities, who often don’t even know where they are coming from, makes communication with all these people quite challenging and poses a big bite for the organizers, the EUSA and the participants themselves. On the other hand, there is no better sports event. It’s not just a sports event, it’s much more than that. During the Games, the Rector’s Conference will be organized, there will be educational events, 6,000 participants will have the opportunity to get to know a country, a city, a people, and I believe that many of them will come back like a tourists with their families and friends.
Do you feel more relaxed if you know the fact about Serbia as a country-organizer of major sporting events? Stark Arena, for example, one of EUG 2020 venue has hosted European and World Championships in the biggest indoor sports such as basketball, handball, volleyball, water polo for its 15 years…
– We have never been afraid that the Games will not be well organized in terms of a sporting event. We know that Serbia is a country of sport and how much knowledge it has in organizing major competitions. The EUG is not just a sporting event, there are many other things that we need to make sure they are on certain level, especially because of participants who are young, I would say, demanding populations. We should do our best in that way, and I can see that with this team in Belgrade and so many young people in the organization, we can sleep without fear.
How is EUSA itself growing through the project of organizing the European University Games? What benefits do you expect?
– EUSA is a fairly young organization, only 20 years old. The first EUG were held in 2012 in Cordoba with 2,000 participants in 10 sports. We are now on 21 sports disciplines and 6,000 participants, so we are growing. Last year we had 21 European Championships in various sports across the continent, we awarded the EUG to Poland in 2022 and Hungary in 2024, moreover all other European Championships in the year when we don’t have EUG. But, that’s not all. In the last three years, we have also been active in the field of EU funded projects and participating in educational events. Sometimes I get the feeling that everything is going too fast, that we don’t even get to follow things in the right way. We have nine people in the office working on different projects. Sometimes a working day last much more than eight hours. However, these are all positive changes. It’s nice to look back and see what was done in a short period of time. The idea now is to raise the standards of the organization, and Belgrade will be a good opportunity to set new ones for all who will play the role of organizers in the future.