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13 September 2021 | in FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy

That’s a wrap for FVLA 2021!
FVLA organising committeeDay 1

After the first online meeting in June, the participants met again for second session of the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy (FVLA) on 8-10 September. The three-day online event reunited students, leadership and volunteer experts, sport specialists and FISU members gathering in total 126 participants. The programme included workshops, seminars on volunteering and leadership, sharing of sport best practices and event management, followed by presentations of FISU programmes.


The FVLA serves as an exchange platform between FISU and student communities. The aim of the educational event is to discuss and share best practices on different topics. Students participating in the programme also have the chance to become FISU Students Ambassadors and fulfil their role as a link between FISU and student communities to raise student awareness of university sports.


Proceedings started with the opening ceremony, which included an introduction video, Russian Federation and FISU anthems, virtual flag parade and welcome messages from Leonz Eder, FISU Acting President, and Dmitry Pristanskov, State Secretary and Vice President for Government Relations at PJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel.


Julien Carrel, FISU World University Championships Manager concluded the first day session: “We have created the International Volunteers Programme to allow students to experience international events, in order to develop new organisational and communication skills. It is great to see people evolve thanks to the knowledge they acquired and exchanged with others during the programme.”


Day 2

The second day started with two sessions to choose from: presentations of the FISU Students Committee, or ‘Media Work in the University Sports World’ which served as an introduction on how to increase engagement and create relevant content for communication platforms.


“Media allows people from the outside world to understand the inside aspects of sport events,” explains Julia Kainrath, Media Support for Unisport Austria.



Volunteering and leadership

Discussions on volunteering and leadership delivered advice were followed by a leadership share of best practices with a focus on the emergence of young leaders, moderated by Joshua Miethke and Oyunbileg Zorigoo, members of the FISU Student Committee, and Penninah Aligawesakabenge, Head of the Sports and Recreation Department of Makerere University. To conclude her presentation, Oyunbileg Zorigoo paraphrased her favourite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”


The discussions on volunteering were an exchange of advices and former experiences from volunteering specialists. Tatiana Nikulina, moderator of the session, says “Volunteers often work after everyone has left and we need to be grateful for them.”


FISU Student Ambassadors programme

Students attending the FLVA can become part of the FISU Students Ambassadors programme and collaborate with local NUSF and CUSF. The FVLA organising committee presented the action plan and roadmap of the FISU Student Ambassador programme to explain their role and responsibilities but also shared experience from former FISU Student Ambassadors, upcoming events and useful tips.


While presenting the FISU Student Ambassador action plan step by step, Elena Mekushina, 2021 FISU Student Ambassador for the UK, said that she wanted to develop the international sport education programme by implementing a trial, organise series of events and develop online content to increase awareness on health topics. Elena explained her objectives: “After I successfully engaged in a student minds mental health in sport workshop, I understood the importance of peer-to-peer support in a sporting community. In these unprecedented and challenging times for students, I feel the urgent need to focus on mental health through sport.”



Cultural programme

During the whole event, yoga sessions were given in between the sessions to teach the students how to prevent pain after long days of work. During the yoga classes, students were encouraged to turn on their camera and follow the teacher in different positions with breathing exercises.


The second day of the FVLA ended with a cultural session in which participants were grouped into virtual break-out rooms to get to know each other. Each participant had to introduce themselves with five sentences. This cultural session’s objective was to create engagement within the student community, just as the presential FVLA sessions in the last couple of years.


Day 3

FVLA participants went into day three, prepared to talk about FISU events and opportunities, event management and leadership skills.  FISU’s Director of Education and Development, Lilia Barieva and FISU Education and Development Assistant, Olivia Margain took the floor, speaking about FISU’s ongoing events and potential opportunities for involvement.


FISU events and opportunities

One of the topics of the discussion was the Costa Rica 2022 FISU World Forum, being held on 8-12 April 2022. FISU Student Ambassador Mahdieh Seraji (IRI) spoke upon her experience at the FISU World Forum 2018 in Krasnoyarsk (RUS), who was a speaker at the FVLA in 2019, along with an FVLA team leader in 2020.


“The FISU Forum has many different activities and wasn’t just about sports,” said Mahdieh. “We had the chance to visit the areas that sports would be held in the next year (i.e., venues), for which instance Krasnoyarsk was hosting the next Universiade in 2019”.


“You could chat with other participants where we had ‘active’ activities in the morning, but long talks at night. I made a lot of friends and we had long talks about our experiences.”


Speaking about his experience at another FISU event, FISU Student Ambassador Linus Lukas Ludwig Loehlein (SUI), who participated in the FISU World Conference in 2019, described his experience at the event.


“I can just say it was an amazing opportunity. There is great opportunity to exchange ideas and research with others in the field. I work in research myself but not in sports, so for that reason it was interesting to attend a conference in an area that is outside of my expertise,” said Linus.


FISU Education and Development Assistant, Olivia Margain, continued the discussion with other opportunities offered by FISU which included FISU scholarships with the successful recipients of scholarships for 2020. Florence Nakimuli (UGA) spoke about what it meant to be selected for the Dream Together Master (DTM), who is currently still in the Republic of Korea after completing the programme.


“It really opens that gap of getting out of your way and learning new skills. I also had a chance to do something out of the ordinary,” Florence explained. “Living and working abroad, since it is a global sports management course, opens doors to the sports management sector. Because I am a FISU Ambassador, I had a higher chance out of all the applicants who applied—you should use that chance because it opens so many doors for you.”


FISU Young Reporters Programme

The FISU Young Reporters Programme presented by FISU included a participant of the programme from the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade, Matthew Barnard. Matthew spoke about his experience in the programme, tips for the application process and opportunities after the programme.


“In no other programme do you get this experience from the Young Reporters Programme. You learn how to interview people in mixed zones, turn short news clips into bigger news articles—it’s an experience that you don’t get to learn about with sports events in other fields.”


FISU Ambassador Session: Event management


Event management is crucial to the field of sports, where Christophe Hugl (Huglprojekts KG) & Kristian D’Amore (TEAM Marketing) presented on sports event structures, functional areas, and how marketing and sponsorships work — including different approaches to be used when dealing with potential event partners.


“Sponsorships and partnerships are a two-way street and should be about an exchange of value and the partner should walk away feeling very satisfied,” said Kristian. “What’s important is understanding their objectives of what a company wants to achieve”.




Session: Leadership Skills

Continuing the sessions was FISU Student Ambassador, Heba Assem (EGY), who spoke about what it takes to become an effective leader. Heba’s interactive session included what skills are needed, what impact a leader needs to have and how to use existing skills.

“You can practice leadership in daily life with family, friends, going to the supermarket—all of your interactions that entails dealing with people include leadership,” she highlighted.


After three days of educational sessions (and yoga breaks!), the FVLA 2021 came to a close, concluding with an awarding ceremony of each participant officially becoming a FISU Student Ambassador by the end of the Academy. FISU Acting President Leonz Eder took the floor to congratulate all participants and organisers for their hard work and dedication to the global university sports community.


“This fifth edition of the FVLA is now coming to an end, and I would like to congratulate all FISU Student Ambassadors,” said Leonz. “I would also like to warmly congratulate the local organisers who have made this fantastic event. Despite this online format, I hope that you all had the opportunity to deepen your knowledge about the University Sport Movement and to feel part of this great community of FISU Student Ambassadors. I wish you the best of luck for your personal and professional future missions.


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