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19 July 2020 | in NUSF News, FISU Student Ambassadors

Lebanese university sports overcomes challenges

With the unfortunate outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that university sports activities in 2020 have been affected and paralysed temporarily. During this time of social distancing, FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy participant Ahmad Karakira had the opportunity to interview the Secretary of International Relations at the Lebanese Federation of University Sport (FSUL) and the newly appointed Vice-Chair of FISU’s Education Committee, Sami Garabedian.

Lebanon Ahmad Karakira FSUL interview (3)

Although Lebanon is a small country with a small population, according to Garabedian, it has been “a founding member of FISU and a very active member in the federation.”


Lebanon Ahmad Karakira FSUL interview (2)Besides organising and scheduling activities and championships, the FSUL, which was first established in 1947, is always ready to engage its students in FISU various initiatives and events such as World University Games, FISU World Forum, academies, educational scholarship programmes, and not to forget the annual International Day of University Sports (IDUS) on 20 September that is celebrated across Lebanese universities.


Although the year 2020 didn’t kick-off smoothly for everyone, 2019 had witnessed some great moments for FSUL. “The best national event of the year for us was the organisation of qualifying events for the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade,” says Garabedian. “The table tennis qualifications in particular attracted a record number of over 75 participants from both genders, from most universities.”


Another successful event that was organised by the federation in the same year, was the 'FSUL Universiade', which was held in June at the American University of Beirut and welcomed over 1,000 student-athletes from almost 20 international universities that competed in 12 sports events. The event was finally resumed for the first time after 10 years of stoppage, however, the fate of the 2020 version is still undecided due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resignation of FSUL’s president in December 2019.    


Lebanon Ahmad Karakira FSUL interview (1)The Lebanese student-athletes were game-changers through their achievements in 2019. "For the 1st time in our participation in the Summer Universiade, two of our athletes in track and field automatically qualified for Napoli by virtue of their personal records which were within FISU’s minimum requirements for qualification,” mentioned Garabedian.


Although, the spread of COVID-19 froze FSUL’s scheduled activities and plans - such as participating for the first time ever in the 2020 FISU World University Futsal Championship - Garabedian looks on the bright side.


"One of the major targets for FSUL’s next Executive Committee is to organise either a FISU World Forum in year 2024 or a World University Championship (WUC) in Mind Games,” reveals Garabedian, who is also the Director of Athletics at the Lebanese American University (LAU). “This will be a major achievement in the history of FSUL".


As the new Vice Chair of FISU’s Education Committee, Garabedian hopes to be "the person to lead FSUL forward and into a brighter future.”


By: Ahmad Karakira