Getting sporty at the International Erasmus Games

The Erasmus Student Network organises the International Erasmus Games (IEG) yearly. Countries send teams of Erasmus+ students to take part in sports competitions. In local and then national qualification rounds, teams from different cities - made up of friends from different nationalities - compete for the honour of representing their host country. But how did this competition begin?

In 2014, the national branches of ESN in Italy and Poland realised that they were both organising a yearly sports tournament for exchange students in their countries. In the spirit of friendly competition and to unite exchange students from all over Europe, they decided to launch a new initiative, the International Erasmus Games (IEG).

The initiative has taken off and has a bright future ahead. The first edition in 2015 was held in Cracow, Poland. In 2016 the IEG took place in Milan, Italy, before moving to Porto, Portugal, in 2017. Next year’s hosts have already been decided: the finalists will meet in Serbia, in the city of Niš. There are already more than 20 ESN countries involved in the project and the hope is to reach more every year. ‘Sports are a universal language that everyone speaks’, says João Pinto, President of ESN International. The sports included are basketball, futsal and volleyball, but the organisers of the IEG finals may add an additional sport. This year, tennis was chosen. Gender balance is an important part of the event, so only mixed-gender teams can participate.

The IEG are part of ESN’s contribution to the European Union Youth Strategy. The competition provides a highlight for exchange students during their time abroad as they discover a new culture, meet interesting people, and participate in the sport they love. Through this event, ESN hopes to contribute to a more active Erasmus+ experience and to improving the mental health of students.

The IEG is an event that has a special place in ESN’s activities. Seeing people from all over the world defending the colours of their host country with passion and emotion is a great source of inspiration to the many ESN volunteers who work hard every year to organise this tournament.

ESN is an international youth organisation with more than 500 local organisations in 40 European countries. Through its activities, ESN supports international and local students in Higher Education Institutions from all over the continent. One focus area of ESN is to provide the opportunity to stay physically active while on exchange and promote a healthy lifestyle.


Photo: ©Erasmus Student Network

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