When collecting information from the Network about sportive activities across Europe The AEGEEan journalist Patricia Anthony was overwhelmed. Many antennae wrote back providing not only pictures but also lots of interesting stories on how they use physical activity for teambulding and more in their antennae.
“Sports is one of the best ways to working on your health and body. In AEGEE where most of things are about communication, sports is the way to find common things between people and improve yourselves together,” says Anna Smailikova from AEGEE-Kyiv about the use of sports in AEGEE. Since last year the antenna has had an amazing project called AEGEE Sport Activities (ASA) started by Sergii Lakhtadyr. At least once a month a sport event is organised that could be related to snowboarding, skiing, roller skating, climbing and more. It is a great tool for not only team building but also involving new members to take an active part in AEGEE-Kyiv’s life. A challenge for yourself and a manner to find new friends. AEGEE-Kyiv encourages other antennae to try to organise this kind of project as it is the mix of everything needed for old and new members – you can choose any type of sport that is utmost popular in the specific country and it will gather people who are ready to change their life and be active.
In last month’s Local of the Month, AEGEE-Las Palmas also uses sports and President Carmen Martin informs The AEGEEan about the reasoning behind it: “I think that sports really fit in our association, since we’re students/young people, and the practice of sports is a really healthy activity that helps us to have a longer life. Moreover, we can practise sports with other people and become friends thanks to this. Also the fact that we play matches in favour or against things we want to improve/change is really symbolic (like the match right before Spring Agora in Mannheim against racism by the Sports Working Group).” During the Academic year, every Monday night AEGEE-Las Palmas meet in the same spot of one beach which is in the city with exchange and local students and organise the regular Sports Night; in which they play football and volleyball. All the materials are provided by AEGEE-Las Palmas and one of the active members always take care of the participants. During European events, AEGEE-Las Palmas always tries to have a day for visiting one of the highest points of the island (Roque Nublo), which is the symbol of Gran Canaria, and the trip is usually by bus but afterwards there is a 45 minute walk that leads to a breath taking view and they hope to organise more walks and days in the nature in the mountains in the future. Carmen agrees with Anna that it is a good way to meet new people and making the antenna more visible in the city and increasing the member’s list in a healthy and fun way.
This month’s Local of the Month AEGEE-Zaragoza also uses sports and one of the coordinators Irene Arregui talked with The AEGEEan. “One of the fundamental missions of our association is to empower young people in Europe to take an active role in society. Physical activity is an essential aspect in the life of millions of European citizens and also another way of participating as an active citizen. Furthermore, sports help people to develop personally and socially, improving their skills in areas like cooperation, responsibility and going the extra mile, an important objective which AEGEE as an association follows,” are the inspiring words she comes with when listing why sports are relevant to our organisation. This September a group of new members from AEGEE-Zaragoza came up with the idea of a running team, wanting to create a new activity for Erasmus coming to study in Zaragoza: “We thought many of them, being new to the city, would like to meet other people in the same boat. People who didn’t want to stop doing sports just because they’re on Erasmus in another country.” Together with Irene, three other new members: Sara Roche, Carlos Embid, Adrián Martín and Cristina Ortega organise this activity every Tuesday every time trying to create fun moments as well with different active games and that way hopefully more and more people will be bold enough to go out in Zaragoza on a cold and windy day late in the evening. Once the weather improves the group has even more ideas in mind to promote a healthy lifestyle which Irene considers very important “As an association of young people, we think it’s fundamental to promote healthy lifestyles such as sport. We believe sport can not only bring benefits on a personal level but also help strengthen the team spirit, which is very important for an antennae. Sports have numerous advantages and absolutely no disadvantages. It can help promote team work and foster important values such as cooperation, tolerance and social integration. It also helps building self-esteem and self-confidence.”
In AEGEE-A Coruña they even have a sports activities responsible, Jose Manuel Suaréz, and he finds sports relating to AEGEE as it is a way to cooperate and work together with the same aim and it doesn’t matter where you are from, it is a tool to communicate for AEGEE objectives. And this they do in Coruña through different tournaments in a long list of sports: judo, ultimate, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, basketball, table tennis, tennis. It is cheap to organise as well as easy, fun and healthy at the same time Jose says when asked why they use it in his antenna.
In AEGEE-Cagliari they also use sports for three reasons. First of all it is an occasion to stay together and have fun, at local level it can help create a stronger relationship among other associations and partners and the President of the antenna Stefano Corsini calls it the best occasion to promote AEGEE. In their antenna they organise events like a football tournament and will also focus on basketball as well as a beach volleyball tournament for the next year.
For AEGEE-Praha it is also about the team spirit “The great thing about AEGEE is that it’s mainly about people that make it work! In order to have a functioning team to develop common projects, the team spirit is crucial and so it is in sports! It helps people get together and see how they can cooperate, get to know each other better and what is of great benefit as well – having fun,” Lucie Zágorová explains why the use sports in the Czech capital. The activities here also differ from month to month and are related to the seasons of the year. They have had a badminton tournament, they have been canoeing on the river for two days, gone to the climbing center where there were different obstacles like ropes in height of around five to ten metres to overcome and even a Laser Tag match made the members get sweaty. However, this is a recent project started by the former board member Barbora Hantonová and it has received great feedback! A lot of people are interested in the activities which help the antennae meeting in a nice, relaxed environment and attracting new members. “AEGEE connects people and sports in AEGEE connects people even more! It’s a great tool to make the spirit of your antenna even warmer and stronger,” Lucie answers to why should other antennae take up the same challenge to use sports in their antenna.
In AEGEE-Kraków it is about crossing your own boarders – they are specialized in running marathons. It is a form of testing themselves, how much they are able to reach together, because they always do it as a group. Every year more and more people decide to run with AEGEE-Kraków, and it’s for them an enormous satisfaction if they did it! It proves that everybody together easily can reach really great things. Earlier this year, it was a bigger action, where almost 60 people joined to gather money for a student from Kraków, who had lost her leg during an accident. The big group managed to collect almost 40 thousands polish zloty, (about 10.000 euro). It was a really big success, especially because for most of them it was their first marathon. ”We encourage other antennae to do the same, because together we can do more good things, spend a great time together, improve ourselves and what is more – help somebody by doing these things. Many people from other polish antennae started to train for the next marathon, being “infected” by our enthusiasm and involvement, and we are really motivating them,” President Magdalena Stettner says.
In terms of a potential collaboration with the Sports Working Group there are several antennae interested in using sports not only at the local level. Antennae like AEGEE-Kyiv and AEGEE-Las Palmas agreed that it sounds like a great opportunity and only future will tell if they will organise European Events with the Sports Working Group. AEGEE-Praha people are in general really into sports and are keen on being outdoors and enjoying nature. During this past year’s SU they went canoeing for two days which is the most typical Czech sport and it became the highlight of the event. Participants enjoyed that a lot even though they were all wet either because of the weirs or turning over in the boat, and AEGEE-Praha lets The AEGEEan know that even though it is not in their plans yet to organise anything with the SWG they know who to contact to make their SU even sportier next year. Hopefully that counts for many more antennae knowing the joy it brings to participants and how it can create a great environment in antennae as well as participants in different events.
Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-København