Volunteering at the Summer Universiade in Belgrade


Author: Vlatko Velkoski
Photos: Jelena Chelebic
& Shona Ritchie

25th Summer Universiade, Belgrade, Serbia
July 1 – 12, 2009

When I decided to apply for a volunteering position at Summer Universiade 2009 in Belgrade, I wasn’t quite aware of the size and importance of this event in the world. What is even more odd, however, is that students, especially those who are actively involved in sports, are not always informed of these kind of events, and many of them miss the chance to gain great experience and at the same time promote themselves as promising athletes. Even worse is the fact that state institutions responsible for supporting these kind of activities usually decide not to give financial support to these promising athletes. To illustrate this with an example from Macedonia, which was supposed to be represented by 30 registered students this year, but in the end it was only represented by 3 students.

I’ll leave you room to decide for yourselves how important the Universiade really is. Universiade Belgrade 2009 hosted approximately 9 000 athletes – students from 140 countries in the world, and approximately the same number of volunteers from all around the world. They competed  in 15 sports and 208 disciplines in total. Among the athletes competing were most of the Olympic champions from Beijing in gymnastics, fencing, diving, and several other disciplines.


For the athletes and the officials at the Univerisade an Athlete’s Village was built – Belville, with the capacity to accommodate all athletes, with a huge restaurant with hundreds of different dishes, definitely one of the favorite “forbidden” places for us volunteers. Every meter in and around buildings where the athletes were walking, the security followed each movement with the most modern equipment. Just imagine what kind of “sport” skills we, the volunteers, needed to have to manage to get into the places that were banned for us, so when someone would succeed in doing this he/she immediately informed everyone else of the techniques he/she used. A t-shirt of the Brazilian national team was particularly helpful for me.

Let me tell you more about the volunteers at this event. What a life. All international volunteers were accomodated in Studentski Grad in Belgrade and we were literally from every corner of the world. There were people from places ranging from South Africa, across Europe to Russia, from China to the USA and even Australia. The capital of Serbia offered us everything we hoped for. Since the first moment of arrival until departure a lot of friendships were fostered primarily among us volunteers, having fun was inevitable and this often led to many sleepless nights. And here I would like to thank the organizers who really did their best to support us and help us have a pleasant stay. I would like to thank Jelena Celbic who together with her colleagues took really good care of us.

During the day they took us to the beach on Ada, the castle of Kalemegdan and at night at discos on the Danube rafts, discos in the castle and of course a cruise on Danube and Sava spiced with a karaoke party. And for all of those who wanted to have even more fun the final place to be visited was the Russian – Tatar House, a makeshift restaurant offering traditional food and information on   Universiade in Kazan 2013. At the end of the night, we gathered in front of the student dormitory having a beer or two and retelling the ?vents of the day.


The first week upon our arrival training for international volunteers was provided, during which our duties were defined. I was involved in the IT sector as technical support, mainly in putting together the pieces or dismantling computers, which gave me a great opportunity to visit almost all sports facilities. Once the Universiade started, I transfered to the Belgrade Fair where competing in fencing, taekwondo, judo, table tennis, gymnastics and others took place. It was a great opportunity for me to learn the rules of play of some of these sports, especially fencing, which is almost extinct as a sport in my country.

This is an experience that every student should have. So all of you students – athletes, young and old volunteers you have the chance to participate at the Winter Universiade in Erzurum, Turkey, Summer Shenzhen in China, then Summer Universiade in Kazan Russia, and a similarly packed events almost every year. To all future participants, I can guarantee you only one thing … lots of fun!

3 thoughts on “Volunteering at the Summer Universiade in Belgrade

  1. I agree with Vlatko in everything!

    I'm representing a huge group from Kazan (where in 2013 XXVII Summer Universiade will be held) and we went in Belgrade to improve our skills in organazing such a huge event, and among it we really found very gud friends, we had a mavellous time together and we never forget that for sure! We still in touch and i hope to see my friends from UB2009 in Kazan.

    Love you all! That was awesome. Jelena, thank you, YOU ARE THE WORLD!!! 🙂

  2. Dear Gareth , 1st. of all I still have to wish you a successful and hehatly year 2013 ! But the real topic is : 1 year to go to to the Sochi Olympics . To me this means also that I b4ve to congratulate you in re. of the Olympics b412 in London. Cause you b4ve talked in THIS article about the extraordinary positive comments and the fact that you b4ve spent much of this year (2012) by benefitting from this magical attention paid to Great Britain.And to me there b4s still some magical atmosphere ,your words , in London in February this year. NOW let me pls.also shifting with the focus to Sochi in Russia. If Sochi will become a centrepiece of a fantastic new era of sport for Russia I b4m wondering a little bit and think: Why ? Because from 1975 until 1999 I often visited Russia . And as far as I can remember about this beautiful town at the Black Sea , Sochi was always a centre for sport-activities. Maybe this wasn b4t, this isn b4t so well known because in former West-Germany or United Kingdom we all were suffering a little bit amongst this cold-war decades. So you b4re completely right by describing this entire area in South Russia, these scenery as fantastic . Allow me just to add that it b4s also world famous for an own kind of brand of THE traditional BRITISH drink : TEA ! Every reader of these little lines who intents to visit Sochi/Russia next year should taste X,Y. Z Variants of marvy Russian tea. So these Winter Games 20 14 do have for me already an happy ending. If ALL these British firms, organizations, factories with London b412 experience are turning their plans into reality- making them come true- we all have surely and already two winners :RUSSIA and GREAT BRITAIN.BW + Hawyl Faur, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart/Wuerttemberg

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