Lajos Mocsai, the rector of the Hungarian University of Physical Education (UPE) is aware that organising the 2020 FISU World Forum in a digital form is a challenge but the proper technical background is provided to ensure it will go smoothly. He also believes that in the long run, the Forum will contribute to the rise of university sports worldwide. Interview with the former national handball team coach.
The pandemic has lead to the cancellation or the postponement of many sporting events worldwide. The same applies to the 2020 FISU World Forum that has moved to the digital realm. How do you feel about it?
What can we do? We have been forced by the pandemic to hold this event online. However, we have managed to adopt to the new situation quickly, as we did it when we had to implement digital teaching at the outbreak of the pandemic. I think we have the proper technical background to organise the event on a high level. The registration has already begun, and I am glad to see that there is interest from many different countries.
How can UPE benefit from the Forum?
Few people know that the general assembly meeting of the Hungarian University Sports Federation (HUSF) will be held on the first day of the Forum. I am sure it is a perfect opportunity for Hungarian university sport to receive some attention worldwide. Another benefit is that the university’s infrastructural development and its sport science-related activity will also receive some focus. I firmly believe that these qualities will contribute to the acknowledgement of the institution in the long run. The same applies to other Hungarian universities (Debrecen, Szeged, Pécs) that are also at the forefront of the Hungarian university sport.
How can university sport benefit for the online event?
In my view, university sport can be divided into three main areas: elite university sport, general university sport in which students compete with each other and grassroot sport. I hope the Forum will contribute the development of all the three segments. For different reasons, they are equally important. Grassroot university sport for example can play an important part in primary prevention and direct students towards a healthy lifestyle. I also hope that participants of the Forum will realise that the world’s university sport must regain its importance, especially the Universiade. My long-term objective is that university sport competitions will act as trials for the Olympics. As far as I can see, there have been certain changes in the Olympic movement and university sport could gain some more role and space here.
From what you are saying, I gather that you foresee some changes in the concept of university sport.
To some extent, yes. Its competition system could be changed a bit and we could raise it to a higher level. Imagine university students battling not only in national but in international cup competitions as well.
All in all, what do you expect from the event?
I hope that everyone will realise how important university sport is. We should really take it to a higher level. There are elite sportspeople at many universities and, in a sense, we should not lose them. They act as role models for other university students therefore a scholarship system should be set up for them. Last but not least, I hope the Forum will at least partly touch subjects such as public health. In my view, universities should be involved in primary prevention. Our task is to help students commit themselves to a healthy lifestyle through physical education.