Written by: 
Ameni Mehrez Thursday, 5 May, 2016 - 17:00

Let the games - the International Erasmus Games - begin!

Erasmus Olympics kick off today.

This weekend, between May 5-8, hundreds of international students from all over Europe will meet in Milan to compete in three different sports - futsal, basketball and volleyball. However, there is a catch: they are not there to represent their home country but the country of their Erasmus exchange. All of them hope to make their host country proud but only so many will succeed. 

This is not the first event of its kind. Last year, ESN Italy and ESN Poland partnered up and organised a similar, very successful event under the name of “ESN TEAM” in Krakow. “The experience from the first edition helped us take this project to the next level this year with even better partners and participants,” said Carlo Bitetto, the vice-head of the organising committee of this event, when we met up with him in Milan a few weeks before the event.

Carlo started in ESN the same way many others do. First, he was an Erasmus student in Pamplona, Spain for one semester, then worked as an Erasmus intern in Ireland and when he returned to Milan, he joined ESN, where he later also served as the president of ESN Italy for two mandates. Currently he is the director of the secretariat at the Medical University of Milan and, among other things, he is also organising this exciting International Erasmus Games event that is held at the Bicocca Sport Centre with almost 320 participants from 18 countries.

Sports really is one of the greatest tools to help integrate Erasmus students. The organising committee has focused a lot of their energy on this project and worked on getting the right sponsors for it. Among other things, they contacted the National Representatives of each ESN country, tried to find a gender balance between participants and especially made sure that there is no alcohol consumption during the IEG.

The following three factors were instrumental in the organisation of the International Erasmus Games: funding, venue and communication. It is so important to find the best sponsors to offer affordable participation fees for the participants. Secondly, the venue of the event is crucial. It should be close to the accommodation, big enough for all participants and well-equipped. Finally comes communication, which is necessary to promote the event, to make it accessible to a wider audience and to convince people of the effectiveness of the event: how it adds a whole other layer to the Erasmus experience and brings people from all over Europe together.

A piece of advice from Carlo to other ESNers interested in organising future IEGs: it is really important to find the right people to support your ideas — no matter how impossible or unachievable they may seem at first. He summed it all up with something that quite many ESNers can probably relate to: I believe that once you have a great idea in mind, it is really important to believe in it and go for it no matter what.

If you want to know how your team is doing, follow the live updates on the event’s official Facebook Page and #IEG2016Milan. What do you think, which country will bring home the most trophies?

Photos from ESN TEAM Krakow 2015 and Annika Selander

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