European University Games are Officially Open!

The third European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016 have been officially opened at the Mladost Sports Center in Zagreb. Sounds, traditional music, colors, planets, aliens, dancers, students, happiness, life, future…those are the words that can describe the spectacle we saw yesterday. The carnival of youth was directed by famous theater director Krešimir Dolenčić and it lasted for two hours. Despite the rain and bad weather, parade of sports and education was held until the end. During the show we enjoyed the performances of dancers of Tala dance center, we listened to the sounds of didgeridoo (even though it is not a Croatian national instrument),  followed byUniversityy choir and many other amazing musicians. The main one who led the ceremony was piano virtuoso Matej Meštrović. The show was opened with an anthem of the Games called ‘As long as heart believes’ sang by a singer from Rijeka, Damir Kedzo. The entire spectacle at Mladost was created to present two main hosts of the Games – Zagreb and Rijeka. Through the dance and songs, Zagreb was depicted as the city of universities, parks, museums, art and sporting success, while Rijeka was depicted as the city of naval tradition, torpedoes, rock and roll, good vibrations and the world’s second largest carnival.

After two cities were presented to the audience, students took over the ceremony in an hour long parade during which they presented every University and country. We saw Portugal, Germany, Iceland, Spain, UK… and many other countries but we learn one more interesting thing. Namely, during the Universiade in Zagreb in 1987 students represented their own countries. This time, at European University Games in Zagreb, students represent their University. It doesn’t matter from which country they are coming from, the most important thing is for which team they play at the moment.

Over five thousand participants walked the athletic track at Mladost Stadium, entering the track in alphabetical order by the name of the country they came from. The hosts occasionally made interesting remarks about the 403 universities participating in the Games.

The hosts walked at the tail of the parade – Croatian students came from 16 universities from Zagreb, Osijek, Karlovac, Rijeka, Split, Pula, Vukovar and Dubrovnik.

Before the oaths were taken, the attendees were addressed by the president of the European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016 Zrinko Čustonja, the Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, the president of the European University Sports Association Adam Roczek and the Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković.

‘May Zagreb and Rijeka, which will be the center of Europe in the next twelve days, be the starting point of a more beautiful and happier future Europe’ said Čustonja and we agreed. The imperative of the games is to build better future, to promote friendship, tolerance, diversity and a smart new world that is (we hope!) coming with new generations.

So that is why we give you one more reason why should you support this year’s games. Here is the schedule for today!  Choose one sport, visit one hall and enjoy in this healthy, happy, event. The University Games are being held in Zagreb and Rijeka until the 25th of July.

Over the next two weeks, 885 university teams will compete in 23 sports: futsal, football, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, badminton, handball, beach volleyball, rowing, rugby 7’s, basketball 3×3, sports climbing, judo, karate, taekwondo and bridge, chess and golf. Two demonstrative sports, swimming and water polo, are also included. For the first time in the history of the European Universities Games, students with motor disabilities, but with a strong sporting spirit, will compete as well: 18 teams will take part in the para-swimming competition and 5 teams will compete in table tennis.

The main organizer of the European Universities Games is the European University Sports Association (EUSA), while the Croatian Academic Sports Federation (CASF) led the organizing efforts of the EUG Zagreb – Rijeka 2016. Although CASF was founded in 1994, the tradition of university sports in Croatia is more than a hundred years old! The first student sports club was founded 112 years ago at the University of Zagreb, and the Academic Sports Club Association founded 92 years ago.