Fifth edition of European Universities Games is announced to be record breaking in many ways. Around 6000 participants competing in record breaking 22 sports are the numbers that the Local Organizing Committee has to be proud of, as well as the European University Sports Association and the entire European University sports movement in general. But when and where did the story begin?
Believe it or not, fifth European Universities Games will be played in the country where the first ever European University sport event was organized. Back in 2001, on September 19th, Serbia and the city of Užice where the host of the European Universities Volleyball Championship. Eight days after, European Universities Basketball Championship kicked off and the outstanding story of University sport began.
We had to wait for two more years for new sports to be introduced. Back then, in 2003, two more sports seen the light – Karate and Football. That year, country known as Serbia and Montenegro organized half of that years EUC´s as Novi Sad (Serbia) and Podgorica (Montenegro) hosted Basketball and Karate Championship.
Next year was a year of great expansion as four new sports took place took place and it was the year when the greatest number of new competition took place, and the only competition held so far in Austria as Klagenfurt hosted the first Beach Volleyball competition. We also saw best futsal, badminton and tennis players.
Year 2005 was similar, as first ever European Universities Rowing championship was held in the United Kingdom. Country that can be considered as the cradle of student rowing and the home of the biggest rowing rivalry in the world, was the right place for the best student-athletes to compete for the first time.
Although the intention of introducing as many sports in the European University Sports movement was clear, EUSA took time and added one sport at the time. Year 2007 was the year when handball took the spotlight, as the city of Besancon, France, hosted teams from all around Europe.
Ostrava was the first city in Czech Republic where the EUC took place, and it was first ever Table Tennis competition. France for the second consecutive year laid a cornerstone in the world of European University Sports. City of Grenoble hosted the first ever Rugby 7s competition in Europe.
In the next four years we saw as many new sports introduced, but it all happened in two seasons. Year 2010 was memorable because three sports officially kicked off. Taekwondo was the second combat sport that became part of European University sport movement – after karate. Bridge was the first mind sport, and golf concluded the list. Fourth competition from the list, Judo, was organized in 2011 and it was the only competition held in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Revolution in European University sport started in 2012 when 2583 participants from 32 countries competed in 10 different sports in Spanish city of Cordoba. Students competed that summer in badminton, futsal, football, volleyball, handball, basketball, rugby 7s, tennis, table tennis and beach volleyball.
Tempo didn´t slow after Cordoba, as every year we had some new sports. In 2013 Basketball 3×3 Competition was held in the Netherlands.
Rotterdam hosted 2830 participants in 2014 as they competed in badminton, basketball, handball, futsal, football, volleyball, rowing, tennis, table tennis and rugby 7s. Proof that the competition in Cordoba was great was increased number of universities and countries where the participants came from.
Next year we saw chess players for the first time at the first ever competition organized in Armenia in the capital city of Yerevan. Also, sport climbers were first time part of the EUSA program and the first ever competition was organized in Poland.
European Universities Games in Zagreb and Rijeka set the boundaries and were so far the most spectacular event ever organized under EUSA roof. Over five thousand participant competed in 21 sport in two Croatian cities. For the first time we saw to demonstrative sports – swimming and water polo, and the second sport is now part of EUSA program.
Between third and fourth edition of European Universities Games we didn´t see any new sport and in Coimbra we saw a new demonstrative sport. Among 13 sports and over 4000 participants that were in Coimbra in 2018, we saw canoe sprinters.
This year again we have four competitions debuting in the European University Sports movement. For the first time we will see university water polo players, kickboxers, orienteers and beach handball players.
Number of participants increase each year and we hope that the fifth European Universities Games in Belgrade will be the perfect way to celebrate 20 incredible years of European University Sports Association.