Author: Hristina Strumelieva (S4ENA)

Interview with Maxine Nijziel (S4ENA) and Matilde Nielsen (S5NL)

Eurosport is a competition among all European Schools that occurs once every two years in one of the 13 European Schools. There are many categories including: Biathlon (Swimming and Running), Volleyball, Badminton and Futsal (Indoor Football). The last Eurosport was held was in 2018 in the European School in Varese, Italy. In 2020, the European School of Mol had planned to host Eurosport. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic the event was postponed.

I spoke with two ESMOL participants from the 2018 edition of Eurosport — Maxine Nijziel and Matilde Nielsen.

What were your expectations of Eurosport and what was the reality?

Maxine Nijziel:

It was somewhat like I expected. The sports teams from all over Europe came together for a friendly competition. Some of us were reunited with old friends, but we all made new ones. Everyone was comfortable with one another, as if we already knew each other. Of course, it was still a competition, so there was seriousness once the matches and races started. But it was more about connecting and really living and making the most out of the experience. We were quite independent. We could make many of our own decisions and the teachers let us roam and mingle.

Matilde Nielsen:

So, was Eurosport in Varese as I had in mind? The simple answer is no. There were some good and bad surprises. I personally had expected that it was going to be a bit more ‘professional’ and in my opinion it could have been better organised. Something I hadn’t expected, for example, was to wait in the rain for almost an hour (if I remember right) at the school of Varese after the Ping Pong tournament. There were also other instances where I feel it could have been better organised. But I also didn’t expect so many students there. I knew that every school sent 30 athletes, however I clearly didn’t know how many schools were participating. I personally also hadn’t expected it to be as fun as it was. I also didn’t consider, how many things we would do in just five days.

What do you think about your experiences? Were they overall good or bad?

Maxine Nijziel:

I thought it was a great experience. I loved the international experience. The different languages and cultures you got to experience yourself!  The first day was all about sightseeing and socializing. The following days the games began. During matches, such as the with the Volleyball team, I really got to experience actual team spirit for the first time. On the last day was the Biathlon and the finals for Badminton, Futsal and Volleyball. Since I‘m a swimmer, I tend to be independent. Now, the entire team had to rely on one another and to see this in action, how everyone motivated each other, was truly inspiring.

Matilde Nielsen:

My experience was fantastic! It was very fun to play, but also to watch and support your teammates. It really gave a team feeling, even though I didn’t know most people. I also talked a lot with people from other schools – they were all very nice.

How did you train for Eurosport?

Maxine Nijziel:

We trained every week at school. Together with the Eurosport team and others who wanted to join as well. The sports teachers were there to guide us and give us tips and feedback.

To be selected we had to be capable of doing as many sports as possible. We were first tested by swimming and running a certain distance under a certain amount of time and the fastest of both genders were selected. This was the Biathlon. Then there was Volleyball, Ping Pong and Futsal (Indoor Football). All capabilities were taken into account.

Matilde Nielsen:

So, on a certain day of the week during the lunch break you could train for a sport: Futsal (Indoor Football), Ping Pong, Volleyball and Aquathlon (also called Biathlon). At the start of the year everyone could participate in these trainings. I started to go to the Volleyball trainings and then later I also participated with the Futsal trainings.

During these trainings, the sports teachers observed the way we played. Then later in the year, they choose which athletes would represent the ESMol in Varese. But the sports teachers could only choose a certain amount of people (30). The chosen athletes normally participated in more than one sport, so that for each sport the school would have enough players.

After the selection was made, the chosen athletes needed to train together on the same days as before for their sports. I was chosen primarily for playing Volleyball. Then they needed more players for the Ping Pong team, therefore I had to start training for Ping Pong. However, after the selection only the chosen athletes were allowed to participate in the trainings. The selection in our school happened rather late, in some other schools (the bigger ones) I heard it was done as early as November!

If you had the chance to attend Eurosport again, would you jump at the opportunity?

Maxine Nijziel:

Yes, I would definitely do it again! All of it was just “wow”! The sports, the team spirit, the mingling and the sightseeing (in Varese) and learning about different cultures…

Matilde Nielsen:

I really would love to do it again. This year I didn’t participate in the initial trainings, because of corona and also because it will be held in our school. So, there would be other ways to participate without joining the team.

What are your tips and tricks for Eurosport? 

Matilde Nielsen:

There aren’t really tips and tricks, because it is mostly for fun. Most schools really don’t mind if they come last or first. Of course, some schools will prepare better than others. However, most of the schools do it for fun. Don’t get it wrong, everyone does their best, but winning isn’t the true purpose of Eurosport.

What was your reaction when you found out that this year`s Eurosport is canceled (for now)?

Maxine Nijziel:

I was devastated when I heard Eurosport was cancelled this year. I was looking forward to it a lot. Especially now that it was taking place in Mol. Our very own school! I really hope they‘ll be able to reschedule it.

Matilde Nielsen:

I didn’t know that Eurosport was cancelled, but I find it a pity. It is understandable why they had to make such a choice. I was very excited and I was looking forward to Eurosport. Hopefully it will be held next year!

How are you training right now, with quarantine?

Maxine Nijziel:

I am not sure what you mean by this. At the moment, I don’t think anyone is training for Eurosport since it has been cancelled. We also cannot currently train in school, as we aren’t allowed to access the gym during lunch.

There are, of course, athletes who are still training for themselves and their sports. I`m still able to swim and run.

Matilde Nielsen:

I am currently not doing any physical exercise. Before the Christmas vacation, I was preparing for the exams. I was studying a lot so I didn’t do any exercises. I also didn’t have time and it wasn’t my top priority. During the vacation, I really didn’t have any motivation and I was kind of lazy, so I didn’t do any exercise at all.  But, now as the new year has begun, I will try to start training on our home trainer at least once a week.

Would you recommend Eurosport to other students?    

Maxine Nijziel:

Yes, I recommend Eurosport to all who enjoy being active and love working together as a team to achieve athletic goals.

Matilde Nielsen:

I would really recommend Eurosport, because it is a super fun experience. It is something I will always remember.

This concludes the interview with Maxine Nijziel (S4ENA) and Mathilde Nielsen (S5NL). It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about Eurosport and see all the amazing photos.

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