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“The FISU World Forum is the perfect opportunity for students to connect”

6 March 2024

With its main theme “University sport: creating a better world”, the next FISU World Forum will take place in less than six months in Zagreb, Croatia from 27 till 31 August. As President of the Organizing Committee, Marko Žunić, tells us why you should register.

Every two years since 1992, the FISU World Forum brings together students, officials and other key partners involved in the University Sport Movement with FISU Member Associations. While promoting University Sports values through discussions and workshops, it gives the participants direct experience from the different National University Sports Federations (NUSF).

The FISU World Forums combine educational sessions with cultural, networking and sporting activities, making them powerful communication platforms for the various university sports communities.

The FISU Forums have been taking place since 1992. In 2014, it took place in Gwangju.

This year, it is the beautiful city of Zagreb in Croatia which will host the 2024 FISU World Forum under the theme “Creating a better world”. The discussions, lectures and working groups will also be studying the sub-themes of diversity and inclusion as well as sports diplomacy and global relations. And of course the students attending the Forum will also take part in many cultural and sports activities.

FISU Executive Committee Member Marko Žunić is also the President of the Organizing Committee. He explains why the FISU Forums are so special.

-Tell us about the Zagreb 2024 FISU World Forum in a nutshell...

-It will be the perfect opportunity for students to connect. I have attended FISU Forums for over 10 years now and I believe it is a fantastic tool for FISU and students to engage deeper than only through sports. I personally want to insist on the sub-theme of sports diplomacy. Croatia is a very small country, with less than 4 million inhabitants, but nevertheless we are very famous. Everyone knows our red and white checkered flag thanks to the successes of our national football team.

This is a good example of how we can be inspired by our sport diplomacy and we would like to share this with the participants that will attend the Zagreb Forum. But I want to stress that it will never be a one-way messaging with ex-cathedra lectures: we also want to listen to youth and learn from them. So we can start co-constructing a better world.

-“Creating a better world”, isn’t this a bit utopic?

-I know it is particularly hard to believe this in these challenging times, but for me these aren’t empty words. It is up to us and the future generations to engage in making things better, in exchanging ideas and points of view, in discussing together in s safe space like the Forum where we all have a common goal. Sport brings cultures together, it brings people together.

The participants, like here in Krasnoyarsk, work together and build relationships that will last their whole lives.

-How has your world changed since you entered the world of university sports?

-I actually studied law and not sports, but I have entered that world through the organization of sports events. First local, then regional, national and finally international with FISU. I realize I am 39 and I have spent 21 of those years being involved in this field and of course it has shaped my life. University sports might not be in the top tier of all international sporting events but I firmly believe they shape the future. Sport connects people and it has certainly helped me build my own network.

– Sport has certainly had a major influence on geopolitics…

-For sure, especially in this region. It is up to us to decide if we want to use sports in a positive or in a negative way. The FISU Forum teaches all of us how to make the most of the positive influence of sport.

-University is about educating young people, also teaching them respect which is at the core of diplomacy.

-Of course, these students’ future is being shaped right now and I believe they shouldn’t only look up to successful businessmen or influential politicians, but also to the actors of the sports world. They have to compete against each other, but will only win by respecting the rules and their opponents. And everyone can learn from the fresh ideas and pure hearts of the students that will attend the Forum.

Participants from all over the world travel to engage in discussions and workshops based around FISU values.

-What is the expected legacy of the Zagreb 2024 FISU World Forum?

-We would like to have set the foundations of a platform where people can embrace some of the ideas they have shared and solidify the connections they have made. And I believe the interest is there: almost 180 people from 39 countries we have already registered, which is great. But we would like to reach almost 300 people from about 60 countries taking part to the Forum between 27 and 31 August 2024.

Additional information about the Zagreb 2024 FISU World Forum, including a link to register – the Forum is only for NUSFs (students and officials) and individual registrations will not be accepted – can be found here.  

Written by Thérèse Courvoisier